A painting by Michael D'Antuono, "The Truth," that depicts Obama as crucified Jesus, is on display at Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery, Boston. The painting is part of an exhibit called "Artists on the Stump–the Road to the White House 2012."
The painting shows President Obama with arms outstretched and a crown of thorns on his head.
According to Fox News, the painting was supposed to debut nearly four years ago at New York City's Union Square, but the show was canceled after it sparked an outrage.
The Christian Post reports that although it is now being displayed, Christians still feel offended with the work, saying it is blasphemous.
According to The Christian Post, D'Antuono, in a press release, described the painting as "enigmatically [depicting] President Barack Obama in the pose of Jesus Christ on the cross, complete with crown of thorns while his outstretched hands appear to pull back the dark veils covering the Presidential Seal."
He said that opponents "Interpreting the political piece as blasphemy... planned protests and wrote thousands of letters demanding the show be canceled."
Fox News reports D'Antuono said: "I always regretted cancelling my exhibit in New York because I feel my First Amendment rights should override someone’s hurt feelings. We should celebrate the fact that we live in a country where we are given the freedom to express ourselves."
He dismisses claims that the painting is blasphemous, saying the public exhibition "has afforded me the ability to right a wrong.” He added: "The crucifixion of the president was meant metaphorically. My intent was not to compare him to Jesus."
He blamed the conservative media for the controversy, saying they tried to "promote the idea that liberals believe the president to literally be our savior.” He said: "But I accepted that it is their right to express themselves and hope that they now see it in their hearts to afford me the same right."
D’Antuono told BostInno that the painting “does not reflect” his opinions. He said it is more of a "mirror to the individual viewers pre-conceived ideas and prejudices."
"The Truth" by Michael D'Antuono
According to BostInno, D'Antuono says that is why he called the painting "The Truth."
He said: “I wasn't comparing the President to Christ. I just used visual imagery that was already associated with Obama at the time. I believe it was the conservative media and John McCain jealous of his mass appeal and hero worship who made the Jesus reference and sarcastically referred to Barack as 'The One.'"
He said that at the initial controversy, he received more than 4,000 emails with messages he described as “anything but Christian-like.”
He said that after the painting sparked a rash of hate mail, he acquiesced to the concerns expressed by his family, who asked him to cancel the exhibition: "I reluctantly acquiesced to my family’s wishes that I cancel the show in New York due to their concern about my safety. I regretted the decision pretty quickly, feeling it was wrong to forfeit my first amendment rights just because some people were offended."
He said that since the exhibition started in Boston, the hate mail has started to come in again. But D'Antuono said he is not too concerned about it. He said: "It’s too soon to tell if it will reach the proportions it did in 2009. It very well could, but I’d like to think there are more important things to be angry about than my painting."
However, angry comments continue to pour into the painter's Facebook page.
Barbara Carpenter, commenting on D'Antuono's Facebook page, described the painting as "Disgusting." She said: "You must be an atheist. I cannot imagine anyone else mocking Jesus Christ in this manner."
Another Christian, Crystal Bordeaux Miller, said, "This is sick and very disturbing! One day you'll have to give an account for your blasphemous depiction of our Savior Jesus Christ!... Obama has never been treated even close to how Jesus was treated."
Tom Dworzansky wrote: "You are a pretty ignorant fool."
Fox News reports that a spokesman at the art gallery said they have had no trouble from visitors to the gallery. D’Antuono said thousands of people have seen the painting without any incident.
He said: "I didn't notice the piece receiving more attention than my other pieces at the opening reception I attended.Those offended by the piece you shouldn't come to an exhibition where it’s being displayed, nor should they try to deprive others who wish to see it, the opportunity.”
The exhibition comes after a furor raised by Jamie Foxx, who called Obama "our Lord and Savior." According to Digital Journal, Foxx, at the Soul Train Music Awards in Las Vegas, told the audience, "It’s like church over here! First of all, give an honor to God... and our lord and savior, Barack Obama... Y'all stand up right now."
According to The Christian Post, former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, has linked D'Antuono's work with Foxx's recent comments. Cain tweeted to his over 220,000 Twitter followers: "Yesterday we had Jamie Foxx saying that Obama was our 'lord and savior'. Today we have the picture to prove it."