Church withdraws funds for ‘insulting’ Jesus photos

The Church of Sweden has withdrawn its backing for an exhibition of pictures of Jesus in Stockholm, after many members of the church objected.

Caroline Krook, Bishop of Stockholm, said objections had been stronger than expected.

“We misjudged the strength of reaction that the Jesus pictures would provoke,” she said, and confirmed that the church was withdrawing financial support.

The exhibition, due to open in the autumn at Kulturhuset, will still take place, officials there have insisted. But they will need to look elsewhere to find the 100,000 kronor promised by Stockholm diocese and the 300,000 kronor pledged by the Church of Sweden centrally.

The photos include classical depictions of Jesus, and images of him as a political symbol against movements such as Nazism. It also, however, included images of him naked on the cross.

Cathedral dean Hakon Långström resigned in protest at the photos last week. He said the exhibition and the book that accompanied it contained insulting pictures of Jesus. The leadership of the diocese, including Krook, had disregarded the views of his parish in funding the exhibit.

The bishop saw the pictures in a different light, and had defended the exhibition, but eventually backed down saying she didn’t want to force the issue.

Despite the withdrawal of the church’s funding, officials at Kulturhuset insisted that the show must go on.

“It is important to go ahead with the exhibition and not to allow other forces to win. Very many people have views on the exhibition and believe that we want to desecrate Jesus. But there is nothing insulting in the pictures,” she said.