Photo Credits: VegNews
Students at the University of Southern Maine had an assignment for their art class to take a book and re-purpose it into something else. Riley Harris, a sophomore studying art and entrepreneurship, took a Bible and changed it by making pages look like flames and adding Satanic images to it and he named his project “Unholy Bible: Very Revised Standard Edition.” Riley’s project was displayed outside a classroom and some Christians, who attend community organizations and religious groups meetings at the building, found it offensive and raised an issue about it.
“This is someone’s sacred text being desecrated, destroyed and displayed in a public place,” church member Charlie Flynn said, as The Christian Post reports. “I couldn’t help but feel no one’s sacred text should be treated that way. I think it’s very inappropriate and repugnant.”
Even though some Christians criticized the project display, the University protected Harris by supporting freedom of speech. The University policy dictates that the institution must support free speech as long as it does not violate the law, violate privacy or confidentiality requirements, etc.
From the Christian Post: “Academic freedom is the freedom to present and discuss all relevant matters in and beyond the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research and creative expression and to speak or write without any censorship, threat, restraint, or discipline by the university with regard to the pursuit of truth in the performance of one’s teaching, research, publishing or service obligation,” the policy reads.
The most important thing behind this project is that Harris did not have any blasphemous reasons or motivations when creating “Unholy Bible: Very Revised Standard Edition.” He is an art student and his artistic views are presented through his project. “I was thinking a lot about questioning authority in general,” said Harris, as Patheos reports. “People question different types of authority, but for some reason religious authority seems too taboo to question, so I thought I would give it a shot.” The University took the right side by supporting freedom of speech because Harris’ project and the idea behind the project were not unlawful, discriminatory or in any other way pointed against religion or some group of people. The re-purposing of the Bible was just an innovative way to spread an idea about the need to question any authority even the religious one and this is not something that should offend Christians.