In a time when brands and organizations are penalized by the left and the media for not being woke, even those that have caved to demands may not be considered “woke” enough. Sweden’s most liberal church found that out the hard way this week, after one of their controversial pieces of art wasn’t woke enough for some activists.
The St. Pauli church in Malmö had hung a controversial LGBT painting from its altar – this should have pleased the left, but instead, the painting triggered outrage from them. Conservatives had already expressed concern over the pro-LGBT painting, but their backlash was nothing compared to that expressed by woke activists, who were outraged over the paintings depiction of transgendered individuals.
The LBGT themed alterpiece “Paradise” is the work of artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, and has been displayed over the alter at St. Pauli church for some time before it was called out for being “not woke enough.”
According to St. Pauli Pastor Svensson, the gay couples portrayed in the painting were fine, but the representation of trans people was problematic. According to detractors, the painting makes a possible association between transgender people and the serpent in the Garden of Eden. This symbol of evil and temptation is associated with transgender individuals, according to the pastor, so the painting would need to be removed.
“At first I did not realize the complexity, but upon closer reflection and careful discussion with the management, there is no alternative but to move the board from the church room,” the pastor said.
Other church officials weighed in, according the Bishop of Lund Johan Tyrberg, who took a waffling point of view, stating that the painting could be interpreted in two different ways – both pro LGBT and anti LGBT. This not so helpful point of view was shared after the controversy became public.
Lund went on to say that the church should have checked with the County Administrative Board before they hung the artwork on the wall.
“It would have been appropriate to make the decisions first and then hang the painting,” he said.
The church in Sweden is already considered one of the most progressive in the world, so the hanging – and then later removal of it – was attention-getting. The church takes pride in maintaining a very pro LGBT stance, in artwork and all their works – the archbishop of Stockholm, Eva Brunne, is an open and out lesbian.
Brunne already made news for her pro-Islam views, and statements that she felt more aligned with Muslim faith than with the conservative Christians in her own church. She also asked Stockholm churches to remove crosses from the walls in 2015 – at the height of the nation’s migrant crisis – to ensure that Muslims felt comfortable in the space.