Outrage at Bible defacing art exhibit sparks review

A decision has been taken to review procedures which allowed a Bible to be defaced during a gay art exhibition in a taxpayer-funded gallery.

The head of the Scottish arts body responsible has ordered a major review to prevent future exhibitions from sparking the same public outrage.

Obscene and offensive messages were scrawled over the pages of the Bible which was displayed in Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art.

Bridget McConnell, chief executive of Culture and Sport Glasgow (CSG), promised to review the rules for determining future art exhibitions.

The Scottish Daily Mail reports that the minutes of a CSG meeting show Mrs McConnell, wife of former First Minister Jack McConnell, briefing board members of the council-funded charity about the scale of the furious public backlash.

She informed them that “internal processes including management authorisation would be reviewed in relation to exhibitions”.

It is believed that the shake up will tighten current rules and make it harder for gallery managers to give the go-ahead to controversial shows without deeper discussion.

Gordon Macdonald of campaign group CARE for Scotland, said: “We welcome the fact they are willing to carry out this review and learn lessons from it.”

A spokesman for CSG said: “We are examining our internal processes with regard to the programme of exhibitions.”

It was first reported in July that the Gallery had displayed a Bible with pens next to it and a notice reading: “Are there any gay people in the Bible? Out of the tens of thousands of people who appear in the Old and New Testaments, there must have been.”

Visitors were told: “If you feel you’ve been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it.”

A number of crude comments and angry remarks expressing hatred for the Bible’s teaching were left.

The idea for the exhibition came from the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) which teaches that homosexual sex is not sinful but to be celebrated.

MCC minister Jane Clarke said she regretted the comments made on the Bible.

Simon Calvert, of The Christian Institute, said at the time: “We all know that they wouldn’t allow that if it was the sacred text of another religion.

“That a taxpayer subsidised gallery should see fit to give space to something like that is disappointing”, he added.

In July the gallery also prompted criticism from church leaders and family campaigners after it displayed a gay art exhibition featuring pornographic images which it claimed would help promote respect for homosexuals.

The controversial sh[OUT] exhibition was part of a £240,000 campaign to raise awareness of homosexuality.

It featured explicit images of sex and sexuality, including one photo of two men engaged in an obscene act.

The exhibition was open to all people of all ages – the only exception was that children under twelve had to be accompanied by an adult.

However, Strathclyde Police praised the exhibition for raising awareness of gay issues and in August the force held a gay and transgender recruitment day at the gallery.

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