A church in New York City has divided members and ignited a social media debate after hosting an art display claiming "God is trans."
The "God is Trans: A Queer Spiritual Journey" display at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, a Catholic congregation, includes artwork that maps the "queer spiritual journey," according to a description of the artwork at the church. The New York Post first reported on the controversy.
The Church of St. Paul the Apostle is the mother church of the Paulist Fathers. According to the report, which includes photographs and an artist’s description, “God is Trans” was displayed next to a side altar dedicated to St. Agnes. https://t.co/rGoJc5qrJh— Father V (@father_rmv) May 8, 2023
"The church should not be promoting this," one member told The New York Post. "I understand there are transgender people. I pray for all people, but enough is enough.
"It seems like they are trying to force the agenda on others," the member said. "Also, when a friend asked a priest about this, they didn't answer. You can't put this out on the altar and then hide.
"That's what gets the church in trouble."
The pro-transgenderism display by artist Adah Unachukwu conflicts with the teachings of the Vatican. Pope Francis this year called gender ideology "dangerous" and said it blurred "differences and the value of men and women." In 2019, the Vatican released a document saying it's a "fact" that "a person's sex is a structural determinant of male or female identity."
The description of the artwork said it focused on three points: Sacrifice, Identity and Community.
"The painting Sacrifice and its complementary act in the film speak to the need to shed an old life and personhood in order to be able to focus on your spiritual need," the description said. "There is no devil: just past selves. Identity is the most impactful part of the exhibition. What does holiness look like? What does your god look like? Are these two portrayals that can be merged? Finally, Communion rounds out the spiritual journey, by placing God and the mortal on the same plane to speak to one another. This part of the installation is about a spiritual home and the ways we can achieve this home in our everyday lives."
Some church members supported the display.
"I don't understand the art, but this church is very liberal, which is why I love this church," Cherri Ghosh, 80, told The Post. "They are really in the present when others are not."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Nicky Ebbage
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.