Image of Hindu deity sparks protest in northern Idaho

SALMON, Idaho Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:55pm EDT

Related Topics

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A group of self-described constitutionalists protested on Friday a northern Idaho city's dedication of a sculpture depicting a Hindu deity.

On its website, the Kootenai County Constitution Party called on Christians to vent their dismay about the "abomination" on a street in Coeur d'Alene and lashed out at local arts officials as a "godless group."

"Ganesha," a blue-hued metal sculpture by Spokane, Washington artist Rick Davis, represents the multi-armed, elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha.

It is one of 15 loaned artworks to be dedicated by Coeur d'Alene and arts commission officials Friday evening, the kickoff of a program that underwrites the year-long display in public spaces of sculptures that are available for purchase.

Officials in Coeur d'Alene, an affluent, lakeside resort of 44,000, said they are perplexed by the gnashing over Ganesha.

They said it is an irony that professed constitutionalists were not prepared to honor First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom and would be met with a counter-protest.

"People are coming to protest the protesters," said Steve Anthony, city liaison to the Coeur d'Alene Arts Commission.

On its web site, the Kootenai Constitution Party welcomes "patriots" and describes its aim "to restore constitutionally limited government" in a nation founded "not on religions but on the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Anthony said a citizen's committee was guided by criteria such as artistic merit in selecting 15 art works, adding: "We looked at this as something positive."

The controversy is a blow for a city that promotes itself as a destination for international travelers and still smarts from the stigma associated with northern Idaho as the historic home of the white supremacy group Aryan Nations.

"The majority of residents here are very tolerant," Anthony said.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (9)
Sniper wrote:
It’s funny (ironic)! I saw the title of this article and thought to myself, “in Idaho”? I could understand if it were in Washington State, Oregon, or in San Francisco. Then, when I read that “Ganesha,” a blue-hued metal sculpture by Spokane, Washington artist Rick Davis was the source, I completely understood.
In a Christian founded country, all religion is acceptable ((except for Christianity, or Judaism (source religion of Christianity, as God/Jesus lived on earth as a Jew)). It is more than telling how the only true religion (which derives from its Judeo/Christian source), and is the only one on earth that allows all religious freedom, no matter how mad, crazy or extreme (read Muslim, kill all who do not believe in Allah).
How will God view us when judgement comes, when we didn’t speak out about all of these false prophets, religions and diety’s? Just a thought…

Jun 10, 2011 10:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
nosmtrthanu wrote:
wow. pilgrims came to this land to escape religious persecution. guess that didn’t work out so well. nobody is asking anyone to convert to anything. nobody is forcing anything down anyone’s throat. it’s a stupid statue at an art show. not a newly built shrine. time for people to get over themselves.

Jun 11, 2011 6:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
jhardaway wrote:
What ever happened to freedom of expression? Christians don’t want a non-Christian religious idol displayed in their town, and as Americans they have the right to express their displeasure. How about if the “arts commission” had an exhibit featuring statues of Adolph Hitler. Do you think those threatening to “counter protest” would be as likely to express the same degree of “tolerance” against those who expressed their displeasure?

Jun 11, 2011 6:37am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.