Controversial ‘Homeless Jesus’ Sculpture Comes to Austin, Texas

Pope Francis blessing a Homeless Jesus statue, delivered to him November, 2013.
Photo: the Higher Learning.

A controversial sculpture titled Homeless Jesus, which depicts Jesus sleeping on a park bench, is to be erected in Austin, Texas, USA Today reports. Bronze casts of the sculpture have already been placed in several US cities including Chicago; Phoenix; Davidson, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Charleston, West Virginia, although the piece is not without its detractors (see Homeless Jesus Statue Makes Some Uncomfortable, but Not Pope Francis).

Pastor Joseph Moore of the Central Presbytarian Church in Austin said that he “jumped at the opportunity” when an unknown donor offered to purchase the work for the Church.

Timothy Schmalz, the Canadian artist behind the statues and a devout Christian, told USA Today that a homeless man in Toronto inspired him to create the work. The artist said that he wanted the artwork to “raise awareness of the marginalized, challenge and inspire society to be more compassionate and charitable, and act upon that inspiration.” He added that he would like his work to “lift the spirits of the marginalized so that they might see Christ within themselves.”

However not everyone in the clergy shares Pastor Moore’s enthusiasm for the work. The prominent Catholic churches of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto; and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York didn’t want the sculpture after “the higher-ups in the New York and Toronto archdiocese turned it down.”

However Pastor Moore maintains that the sculpture “does what good art always does,” explaining, “It inspires conversation…we hope Homeless Jesus will inspire in our congregation, our city, and beyond.”

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