As a lifelong practicing Catholic, art aficionado, and history buff, I always have a great appreciation for religious art, architecture, music, and movies. Well, just as long as I find them to be of great artistic quality and not something that looks like you can put it on somebody’s T-Shirt. Quality religious art has always been greatly influential in our modern culture whether it’s the great Madonna and Child paintings from the Renaissance, large intricate Gothic cathedrals from the Middle Ages, sacred hymns, and a lot of religious films of the 1950s. I mean Ben Hur might’ve starred Charlton Heston but you have to enjoy the chariot race scene. I can go on and on about the great religious masterworks but that would be a very long post since it would involve scores and scores of paintings and sculptures you’re already familiar with. Instead, I’ll focus on some of the great blunders that would make everyone wonder why God hadn’t unleashed His wrath on the artist in the first place. Yet, since this is about bad religious artworks, here are a few points to follow.
1. This isn’t a post that shows anti-religious artwork or anything that’s intentionally depicted as sacrilegious. In fact, much of the works were done by religious artists themselves but they just didn’t seem to depict the true spirit of the religious subjects that they’re either tacky or unintentionally funny. Examples include, crapsaccharine mentality, bad artistic representation, or images that in some way don’t make any sense.
2. This isn’t an anti-religious post, just a post of bad religious expression in art. Rather, as a Catholic, I don’t see anything wrong with making fun of religion as long as it’s not offensive. Since religious art plays a critical role in our culture, I see nothing wrong with mocking the tacky pieces.
3. This isn’t a post depicting religious artwork used for an amusing purpose or has the equivalent of Jesus being depicted in a Batman suit, a celebrity in an iconographic image or a dog version of The Last Supper. I know these exist but they were supposed to be funny on purpose. These works shown in this post were initially intended to be taken seriously as well as catered to an audience.
4. These aren’t artworks with religious motifs or symbolism in otherwise secular works.
5. These are mostly done by contemporary artists since I can’t bring myself to criticize the great masterpieces of religious art during the Renaissance and Baroque Era unless it’s Abraham trying to sacrifice Isaac with a blunderbuss to his head. Yet, I haven’t found this one yet.
6. Yes, most of these works derive from Christianity yet that’s because many Christian artworks tend to be the worst offenders. Basically if Christians are willing to depict Jesus in a business suit, I’ll practically run with it. I’m also willing to post Jesus with a gun.
7. Some of these would have quotes as to what the artist intended for this work to mean, which aren’t in my own words.
8. This doesn’t include bad restoration work so the lady who made Jesus look like a monkey is off the hook.
So without further adieu, here is an assortment of kitschy religious artwork.
1. Leaping Jesus on the cross talking to the women of Jerusalem.
2. Jesus rising out of his tomb body and spirit.
3. “It seems obvious that if Jesus were to shock the status quo in the 21st century with a tattoo that it would say ‘Father.'”
4. “The anguish that God experiences while His children are abused is the cumulative experience of all the abused children since the beginning of time compressed into one eternal moment.”
5. Jesus during story time at school.
6. Jesus at the United Nations.
7. Just a still life of Christian imagery.
8. Jesus at the Liberty Bell.
9. Jesus is always the senior business partner. “Christ’s presence is an integral part of daily life, no matter one’s profession or calling.”
I don’t know about you but while I think Jesus’ presence should be encouraged in business meetings, it doesn’t mean everyone’s going to listen to him. Also, remember that time when he’s yelling and overturning tables at the temple. Man, you don’t want to see him like that.
10. Jesus takes up the soul of Michael Jackson wearing the King of Pop’s glittery glove.
Seriously, why have Michael Jackson in a religious painting? I mean what the hell did this ever get produced? Guess it’s someone’s fan work I guess. A Michael Jackson zombie portrait would’ve been much more appropriate.
11. A suffering Jesus with a chalice and a tiger?
Seriously what does a white tiger have to do with Jesus’ suffering other than the fact the artist thought it was too awesome to leave out?
12. If only Jesus had taken anabolic steroids, he probably wouldn’t have suffered on the cross.
Sorry, I can’t take this painting seriously for some reason. Maybe it’s seeing Jesus with a body like Arnold Schwarzeneggar. Also, Jesus seems to have a determined expression on his face and for breaking off the wood on the cross.
13. A modern rendition of the Annunciation.
I know the girl in blue is supposed to be the Virgin Mother dressed as her favorite Disney princess but she looks like such a kid in this it’s not even funny. In fact, it’s kind of creepy. The Angel Gabriel praying kind of irks me, too. I think the Annunciation should be depicted in its own time or with an older Mary for God’s sake.
14. Jesus reaches for the sky.
Heard that God hated this statue of his beloved son so much that he sent a lightning bolt down to destroy it. Guess there’s a limit to the level of tackiness the Almighty can tolerate.
15. “Only God will share in the fullness of your sufferings and never forsake you.”
Also, if you shoot up heroin, Jesus also gets high so it balances out. I mean I guess assuming that Jesus and the addict share the same tattooed arm. Still, perhaps Jesus shouldn’t materialize behind unsuspecting people anymore since it has lead to a lot of misunderstandings.
16. The Most Holy Trinity.
I get the whole “Jesus is God” thing with Christianity but he’s “the Son” of the Holy Trinity, not “the Father” and “the Holy Spirit.” Let’s just say if you depict Jesus as all three persons of the Trinity, you have a problem. Also, the little angels don’t seem too happy with the Jesuses stomping on their heads.
17. Jesus riding on a dinosaur, need I say more.
Yes, this picture is as ridiculous as it sounds since Jesus is depicted in a prehistoric setting, let alone before the New Testament.
18. Jesus Christ is the savior of truckers.
Now I don’t want to insult any truckers since they perform a valuable purpose that we can’t deny and I know that many of them need Jesus’ protection as well. Yet, somehow I find this so tacky that I’d expect it to be seen in some rundown trailer for some reason. And the fact it’s velvet.
19. Jesus moping on the cross.
For some reason, I can’t help looking at this and not expect Jesus about to break into some Flashdance routine after he says his prayers. Also, where are his “stigmata” marks for his hands and feet seem totally bare.
20. And yet another picture with Jesus and the dinosaur.
Now Jesus with a dinosaur is ridiculous enough. Jesus with a dinosaur, rainbow, and a young blond girl just takes tackiness to a whole other level. Looks like Jesus is so excited to finally see a dino after working on his new time machine or something.
21. See Jesus hang out with his buddy Lord Krishna.
Of course, Jesus and Krishna are both said to be human incarnations of God or a god. Yet, outside India (where Krishna is a major icon in Hinduism), this picture would kind of border on blasphemy because of the whole one god rule in Christianity.
22. The King of Rock and Roll meets the King of Kings.
For some reason Elvis Presley doesn’t seem thrilled meeting Jesus despite that he was a staunch Christian all his life and didn’t like people calling him “King” to his face for this reason. Probably is due to the fact Elvis was disappointed about the buffet up in Heaven.
23, Here’s the Mormonism Founder Joseph Smith as a Spinx.
For a moment, I almost thought it was a tacky monument to Buster Keaton at some Los Angeles country club. My apologies to the late great silent screen star.
24. Of course, this art work depicts Jesus’ little known Sermon of Stepford.
This was actually done by a Mormon artist and it was alleged that this was supposed to be a picture of Jesus with his polygamous wives. Despite that many Mormons (particularly early ones) believe Jesus had at least two wives, the artist denies this. Still, such Mormon concept makes Dan Brown’s idea of Jesus and Mary Magdalene as a couple seem pretty tame.
25. Lucifer snared on the power lines.
So, remember kids, the main reason we have power lines is because they’re the best defense against Satan. The fact they provide electricity to your house is purely coincidental.
26. See Jesus walking in the woods with a huge bear.
“As my Father in Heaven proclaimed, only you can prevent forest fires.” And then the bear made out with Jesus’s food sack.
27. C’mon, kids, let’s go to Heaven to join Jesus in the Rapture.
Man, despite all the carnage wreaking havoc during the apocalypse, these people don’t seem to worry about losing everything in eternal hellfire. All that matters to them is gleefully going up to Jesus in 1950s fashions.
28. Jesus taking all souls to Heaven while destruction wreaks havoc on earth.
Come to think about it, this picture makes a compelling case why Michael Bay should do a film on the Rapture. Think of his depiction as the Christian version of the Transformers series. Also, why are all the figures wearing white gowns in this?
29. Welcome to the Rapture, please let the angel guide you to your appropriate destination before being taken up to Heaven.
Also, why the 1950s fashions? I mean the Rapture didn’t happen then. And if it were to occur sometime in the future, people would certainly not be dressed like they’re from the 1950s.
30. Jesus will help you through the raging waters of the storm.
“See that stretch of land, going there, steer thataway full speed ahead.” Also, what the hell is that boat pilot wearing? Because that doesn’t resemble a life jacket to me.
31. Nothing brings a true expression of Christianity than a sculpture of two disembodied hands in a praying position.
This freakish statue stands in front of Oral Roberts University. Nevertheless, despite it being a religious artwork, Christian piety didn’t seem to be what I had in mind upon seeing this.
32. See the Dark Lord Satan tempting-I mean lending his evil- I mean giving wise words of wisdom to these two kids standing near him.
This is a Satanic monument for the Oklahoma State Capitol. Now I know that real Satanist are nothing like how they’re depicted in Hollywood. Yet, I don’t think presenting Lucifer with a goat head and seated like a mall Santa is helping their case.
33. See Jesus bestowing his words of wisdom to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. According to the artist: “The Introduction is a stunning portrayal of that first moment of man’s special blessing from God. A brand new world sparkles and vibrates with color and movement as Adam and Eve gaze with a wonder and tenderness to set the standard for all time.”
I don’t know about you but I know that just because Christianity says, “Jesus is God” doesn’t mean that Jesus should be in this because he’s “the Son” and that incarnation of the Holy Trinity doesn’t show up until the New Testament. Adam and Eve are in Genesis and thus, in the Old Testament. Portraying God as the old man in the sky would’ve been more appropriate. Also, I’m sure that Adam and Eve aren’t just gazing at each other in wonder and tenderness.
34. To suit your Holy Communion needs, here’s a wine dispenser of Jesus’ hand.
I don’t know about you but I kind of find the idea of blood spurting into the chalice from Jesus’s giant stigmatic hand kind of creepy. Kind of has the all too literal “Body and Blood of Christ” connotation to it.
35. What better Christian velvet painting to have than three Jesuses looking towards the moon.
Somehow I look at this picture and the words come to mind are, “I’m just a poor boy nobody loves me./ He’s just a poor boy from a poor family./ Spare him his life from this monstrosity.” Also, three Jesuses is way too many and kind of creepy.
36. Here’s Jesus greeting the doves from the sky after his baptism.
I don’t know about you but I’m not sure this artist knows how to draw sun rays because his tend to resemble scorching flames. Hope those doves didn’t get burned.
37. Don’t worry, Jesus is here to stop the storm at sea.
Think of this painting as a Christian themed version of Lost since everyone on that boat seems to be racially diverse and wearing modern day clothes. Also, why is there a wooden sailboat here? We don’t use those kinds of boats anymore.
38. Jesus is always online with your concerns.
However, despite the image, those who wish to chat with Jesus on the internet would be sorely disappointed because Jesus didn’t mean “online” at a digital standpoint. Still, despite his hairstyle not conforming to office regulations, he sure knows how to dress for work.
39. Jesus in Heaven with his celestial horses.
Yes, you hear me, Jesus with his stable of celestial cloud horses. Seriously, don’t tell me that even Christian artists could be on acid? Because this is messed up, man. Also, there’s a giant cloud dove in this, too.
40. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd as well as a sexy beefcake.
Who made our Lord and Savior into a figure on a Harlequin Romance novel? Seriously, why make Jesus sexy when most Christian denominations don’t consider him to have any sexual activity? Of course, if this was for a cover of some Jesus-Mary Magdalene shipping fanfic, I’d totally understand, Dan Brown.
41. Goku kneels down for Jesus.
I’m sure Goku from Dragon Ball Z wasn’t at the crucifixion nor would he have been the beloved disciple. Seriously, this is pretty tacky fanart or something.
42. You don’t want to see naked crucified Jesus when he’s angry.
“Where’s my clothes?” Man, Jesus may be crucified, but he can sure grow into the Incredible Hulk when he wants to. Also, exposed genitalia might be offensive to many Christians just a little FYI.
43. “The man in the middle represents the modern Christian … a man who must decide whether or not he will stand up for his Christian beliefs. Many are shouting out to tell him what to do. He raises his hand to say, ‘Be silent, for I know that Jesus is the Christ!'”
Christians may be persecuted in some parts in the world but usually in countries like North Korea. However, I’m sure the white male in a business suit is surely not oppressed in Christendom not in the least. Yet, you can tell where this artist’s politics stand in this painting with making the white male suit a symbol of the modern Christian.
44. Jesus was the inspiration for the constitution.
Maybe Jesus was but he has to share credit with the Enlightenment figures like John Locke and Rousseau. Nevertheless, Lincoln, John Adams, and Alexander are trying to start a barbershop quartet while Washington doesn’t seem too interested. Still, this is a more blatant painting commemorating the artist’s conservative politics than it is about Jesus.
45. Here’s a painting of the biblical heroine Judith of Bethulia who beheaded a guy named Holofernes in of the extra canonical books of the Bible.
Of course, this painting seems to resemble something that would be hung on some college guy’s dorm room. Yeah, a badass biblical heroine is reduced to some scantily clad chick you see in certain action movies. Pretty much a shame.
46. See Jesus and Beelzebub box each other in the ring.
Jesus and Satan boxing with oven mitts while God serves as announcer. Now I’ve seen everything. Still, all the angels and demons feel so excited about the match.
47. Jesus gets mauled by a bear and trying to confront it.
Uh, Jesus, you might want to run away because it has cubs in the background. Trying to make peace with a mama bear is never a good idea, honest to God I’m not kidding.
48. Accept NASCAR Jesus as your Lord and savior.
Honestly, this is one of the most redneck Jesus artworks I’ve ever seen. Hey, I didn’t know Jesus had Budweiser as a sponsor. Of course, he’s just at the track to protect racers from wrecking into each other or dying while wrecking into each other, since wrecking is basically the only interesting thing that happens during NASCAR races.
49. My, Jesus, what green eyes you have.
Kenny Loggins doesn’t seem to have aged well in recent years. Nor does he seem to have grown out of that 1980s haircut of his.
50. Aww, what a sweet painting of Jesus watching a child sleep.
For some reason, I find this rather creepy, especially reading Jesus’ expression and his trying to touch the child’s head.