On July 9, an activist art collective called Indecline draped a banner saying, “GOD BLESS ABORTIONS,” over a giant statue of Jesus in Eureka Springs, Ark. The collective said its reason for hanging the banner over the seven-story Christ of the Ozarks statue was to protest restrictions the state of Arkansas is imposing on abortion.
“The project, entitled ‘God Bless Abortions,’ is in direct response to the dramatic attempts being made in Arkansas and throughout the South, to ban abortion services to women in need,” said Indecline in a statement.
On March 9, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law that bans abortions in Arkansas, except when necessary to save the life of the mother. The bill made no exceptions for cases of incest or rape. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have sued to strike down the new law before it takes effect on July 28.
Christ of the Ozarks Defaced
Christ of the Ozarks is a 67-foot tall statue that sits atop Magnetic Mountain near Eureka Springs, Ark. The statue is on the property of the Great Passion Play, an organization that holds dramatizations from May to October of the final week of the life of Jesus. The performances, which have a run time of nearly two hours, feature 170 actors and are held in an outdoor amphitheater seating 4,000 people. In addition to Christ of the Ozarks, the Great Passion Play’s other attractions and projects include a Holy Land Tour and mission trips.
Before sunrise on the morning of Friday, July 9, Indecline members disguised as a construction crew snuck onto the Great Passion Play property and hung the 44-foot “GOD BLESS ABORTIONS” banner across the Christ of the Ozarks. Founded in 2001, Indecline says it is “responsible for some of the most infamous guerrilla art and protest campaigns in the U.S.” Defacing property is par for the course for the group. In March of this year, Indecline altered a Christian billboard in Mississippi that read “Worried? Jesus offers security” to “Worried? Planned Parenthood offers abortions.”
In an Instagram post about the banner, Indecline said, “In Arkansas, there is only one 65-foot statue of Jesus. There is also only one abortion clinic. No professional sports teams. Just a bunch of angry men with no outlets, writing outrageous laws…That, and the second highest rate (by state) of infant mortality. It’s hard to see how ‘pro-life’ can be so myopic in its vision of what life is” [Editor’s note: This post contains language that some may find offensive].
The post continued, “We think Jesus would understand the concept of a difficult decision. He supposedly had to make a few of them and understood sacrifice very intimately. The Christ of the Ozarks is visible from miles away, so we just treated it like a billboard.” The group said it is neither “pro-choice” nor “anti-life,” but thinks that abortion is a “miracle worth celebrating.”
Indecline also mentioned that the Christ of the Ozarks was conceived of and built (in 1966) by Nazi sympathizer Gerald L.K. Smith, who blamed the Jews for Jesus’ death. According to the Arkansas Times, the Great Passion Play has since distanced itself from that view and now includes a statement at the beginning of performances saying that all people, not just one group, are responsible for Jesus’ death on the cross.
The Great Passion Play’s director, Randall Christy, said he will be pressing charges against Indecline. Director of operations Kent Butler said, “They trespassed on our property. They put themselves at risk when they were putting it up. Then they put our staff at risk when they were taking it down. And they tried to use our platform, our statue as a platform for themselves.”
He added, “The people who hung the banner on the Christ of the Ozarks, I would like them to come and see Jesus hung on the cross that’s right behind me because Jesus’ mission was that of love and people’s lives matter.”
The Great Passion Play organizers hired a tree company to remove Indecline’s banner and posted a video of that process on Facebook. Indecline reposted the same video to its own Instagram account, mocking the passion play’s participants.