Poking fun at God? Anime-style religious icons disturb Russian Orthodox believers (IMAGES)
A social media group followed by thousands of people has been posting images of religious icons with the faces of characters from Japanese cartoons. The pictures, which feature representations of Jesus, Mary and a number of saints, seemed to capture the imagination of netizens but failed to impress members of the Russian Orthodox Church, some of whom accused the artists of blasphemy. A number of people even suggested that the controversial pictures may have breached Russian laws.
The provocative images came to the public’s attention in mid-February, when a TV channel in the Russian city of Ufa (1,355 km east of Moscow) aired an interview with a local church leader who called the artists’ creative efforts “inappropriate” and “sinful.”
The priest also accused them of ignorance and violation of canon law. Local churchgoers were also uneasy with the artworks, with one woman saying she was “wounded to the quick,” while another slammed the artists for “poking fun at God.”
Local church authorities said they are currently checking the controversial images.
In 2013, President Vladimir Putin signed a law criminalizing actions aimed at insulting believers’ religious sensibilities. The most famous case taken under the legislation saw blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky receive a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for playing Pokemon Go on his phone in a church.
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