An artist’s nativity ornaments – featuring baby Jesus with either two dads or two moms – are breaking news, but they aren’t new.
On Monday, the Daily Mail, along with multiple gay news sites, reported on UK organization Christian Concern criticizing a California artist for creating “blasphemous” nativity scenes with either two Josephs or two Marys as Jesus’ parents. But reporters aren’t looking into what originally sparked his “art.”
Artist Mark Thaler designed gay and lesbian nativity tree ornaments for his company Pride and More. While outlets reported that he stopped selling them after facing backlash, the decorations are still readily available both in the UK and in the U.S. on Zazzle, an “online marketplace.”
While Christian Concern deemed the ornaments a “blasphemous attempt to rewrite the Christmas story,” Thaler defended his “art.”
“Not everyone's viewpoints are the same. People need to coexist and not judge one another,” he said, according to the Daily Mail. “It's just an image. They need to focus on themselves and not worry about what everyone else is doing.”
Thaler’s design isn’t original – something media outlets seem to have overlooked. The scenes on his ornaments are duplicates of images found on a “Gay Christmas Card” and “Lesbian Christmas Card,” also sold on Zazzle, by a company called Jesus in Love.
Kittredge Cherry, a self-described “lesbian Christian author, art historian and minister,” is the designer for Jesus in Love, also based in California. In a blog post – from 2009 – Cherry revealed that she “created my own gay and lesbian nativity scenes,” just “like putting two brides or two grooms on top of a wedding cake!”
She even posted a YouTube video of the scenes:
The product description for her nativity card with two “Josephs” read:
What if the child of God was born to a gay couple? Because, after all, LOVE makes a family, including the Holy Family. This card shows a gay Nativity scene of two Josephs with the baby Jesus. It is true to the spirit of Christmas: God’s child conceived in an extraordinary way and born into disreputable circumstances. Everyone belongs in the Christmas story, including LGBT people and our allies.
This topic is nothing new for Cherry. Just last year, in a Huffington Post blog, she advertised her new book The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision which holds 24 paintings of a “gay Jesus” and his “homoerotic union with God” during his crucifixion, death and resurrection.
But back to 2009. While Cherry admitted that her nativities were not historically accurate, she insisted that “they are true to the spirit of the Christmas story in the Bible” with “God’s child conceived in an extraordinary way and born into disreputable circumstances.”
“Love makes a family -- including the Holy Family,” she added.
“Go ahead and imagine that Jesus has two mommies,” she continued. “According to the Bible story, Joseph was an adoptive father anyway. The Virgin Mary had Jesus without sex with a man -- much like lesbian mothers who use artificial insemination.”
(She didn’t, by the way, try to explain how the two Josephs could have a baby.)
Cherry also forewarned her readers that “rearranging the Holy Family is not as simple as it seems.”
“Be sure to buy a set with freestanding figures,” she directed. “In many cases Mary, Joseph and Jesus are wedded together in one inseparable, three-headed blob. What does that say about our attachment to idealized, sanctified heterosexuality?”
Cherry’s inspiration came from a “gay and lesbian Nativity scene” with live actors for a 2008 “Pink Christmas” festival in Amsterdam. That idea sparked her “own lesbian Christian spiritual awakening while waiting for the event.”