Jesus Sculptures Stir Controversy

April 4, 2007 — -- With a holy week in full swing for both Christians and Jews across the country, controversy over two sculptures of Jesus -- one chocolate, the other depicting Barack Obama as Lord -- is heating up.

Artist Cosimo Cavallaro created "My Sweet Lord," a 200-pound, 6-foot-tall and anatomically correct sculpture of Jesus made entirely out of chocolate.

"I didn't go out there to make this offensive," Cavallaro said. "Had I wanted to make it offensive, I would have done something completely different."

The sculpture was supposed to be on display in a New York gallery during Easter week, but the gallery pulled the plug amid criticism from Catholics.

"This would rank as one of the worst, most vile, obscene and blasphemous assaults on Christian sensibilities that I have ever seen," said Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League.

There has been a lot of controversial Jesus-themed art of late.

In Chicago, a sculpture combining Jesus and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a Democratic presidential candidate, created a stir.

In Florida, a gallery refused to display a version of "The Last Supper" that featured dogs as Jesus and his disciples.

Madonna was threatened with excommunication for appearing in concert on a cross, wearing a crown of thorns.

"Artists should have freedom of expression, but you should know that you are provoking people's deeply held beliefs and you shouldn't just do it for the fun of it or to get attention," said Steven Waldman of the spiritual Web site Beliefnet.

Some Christians say it's better to turn the other cheek rather than loudly protest.

"When we protest, we only make this behavior all the more attractive," said Paul De Vries of the New York Divinity School.

Cavallaro agreed.

"The more they are actually trying to stop it the more they are actually liberating it to the whole world," he said.

He said that he was fielding offers to show his chocolate Jesus around the world.

In the meantime, the sculpture is being stored in a secret location for fear that what the artist calls "fanatics" will destroy it.