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NY artist causes an uproar for his painting of President Obama as Jesus Christ

Actor/comedian/radio host Jamie Foxx recently came under criticism for calling President Obama “Our Lord and Savior” at the BET Soul Train Awards, and now another controversy is brewing around the president and religion. A New York-based artist’s painting of Obama is causing deep outrage, for this is no ordinary depiction.

The newly re-elected president’s likeness, which resembles Jesus Christ, complete with a crown of thorns and arms outstretched in the crucifixion-like pose, has ignited a backlash from the Christian community.

Artist Michael D’Antuono's painting “The Truth” is currently displayed at Boston’s Bunker Hill Community College art gallery and is part of a collection featuring the president’s “Road to the White House 2012.” (Click here to see the exhibit).

Incidentally, the painting, was reportedly done years ago and scheduled to make its debut on April 29, 2009, in New York Union’s Square Park, to mark president Obama’s 100 days in office. “The Truth” was supposed to be an interactive art piece, where it would have been placed in a mock voting booth for “voters” to view privately and then interviewed after their experience.

But rapid outrage in the form of 4,000 emails mostly from the religious conservative right, caused D’Antuono to cancel the event, which he now says he regrets doing. He reportedly told Fox News that his First Amendment right should take precedent over someone’s hurt feelings and that “we should celebrate the fact that we live in a country where we are given the freedom to express ourselves.”

Even though Foxx is a comedian and his comments were clearly made in jest at the Soul Train awards, and D’Antuono is an artist, with similar creative licensing and freedoms, some in the religious community are not amused or inspired by the arts.

President of the Catholic League for Religion and Civil Rights, Bill Donohue, wrote this on their website: “Michael D’Antuono is a left-wing artist known for exploiting racial tensions (e.g. depicting George Zimmerman as a Klansman and Trayvon Martin as a generous child) but now he has succumbed to a new low.”

His harsh criticism didn’t stop there. He went on:“What makes this display so interesting is the flat denial of truth by so many artists and academicians, as well as their irrepressible hostility to Christianity. Yet when it comes to their savior, President Obama, they not only pivot, they proselytize.

Donohue also called the D’Antuono, “an angry artist,” who was ripping off “Christian iconography for the purpose of making a cheap political statement.”

What do you think of the painting: Artistic freedom or sacrilegious?