A New York City man is suing the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET), over its portrayal of Jesus Christ, according to The New York Post.
Justin Renel Joseph filed a lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court arguing that several masterpieces depicting Jesus Christ as a blond-haired Caucasian are inaccurate. Joseph argued that Jesus was a dark-skinned Middle Easterner and had “black hair like wool and skin of bronze color,” like himself. In court filings, Joseph describes himself as a “biracial male who is of Hebrew and African descent.”
Joseph claimed he suffered personal distress after viewing Sebastiano Ricci’s “The Holy Family with Angels,” Perugino’s “The Resurrection,” Tintoretto’s “The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes,” and Francesco Granacci’s “The Crucifixion.” He also argued that portraying Christ as a Caucasian was deliberately done to elevate one race over the other.
“They completely changed his race to make him more aesthetically pleasing for white people,” he told The Post. “I’m suing a public venue which by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can’t discriminate on a protected basis.”
According to The Christian Examiner, Joseph said the City of New York was using public funds to support a “white supremacy agenda.”
“The government is paying for this art, so its government speech,” said Joseph in an interview with Black Talk Radio News. “The MET is a public venue so it can’t show art catered only to white people. This is what I’m calling ‘Whites Only Art.’”
However, the MET defended the paintings saying they had artistic and historical significance.
“When they were painted, it was typical for artists to depict subjects with the same identity as the local audience. This phenomenon occurs in many other cultures, as well,” said Elyse Topalian, a spokeswoman for the MET, in a New York Post interview.
Western culture has depicted Jesus Christ as a white man for centuries, but he has also been depicted as other races according to countries where Christianity is followed. According to The Inquisitr, Jesus has also been portrayed as Black, Asian, Native American and Indian. The Inquisitr stated that Jesus was a first century Palestinian Jew, and probably had wooly hair, dark skin and a wide nose.
However, attempts to depict Jesus as anything other than white have met fierce resistance. FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly generated controversy in 2013 when she insisted that Jesus was white.
“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change. Jesus was a white man, too,” Kelly said.
She was widely mocked for that comment.