Culture & Society News Poland

Poland: Activist arrested over posters of Virgin Mary and Jesus with rainbow halo

Warsaw, Poland – According to local media, a 51-year-old woman has been arrested and accused of profaning the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, one of the most highly revered icons in Poland.

Posters and leaflets of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, whose halos had been painted in the colors of the LGBT flag, started appearing in the city of Płock, central Poland, late last month.

Polish woman detained for “offending religious belief”

Yesterday, local police authorities confirmed that a 51-year-old woman had been arrested on Monday on suspicion of profaning the holy icon, after police investigators found several dozen similar images while searching her house in Warsaw. Her identity wasn’t immediately revealed by law-enforcement authorities.

Joachim Brudziński, Poland’s interior minister, also confirmed on Twitter that police forces had arrested someone for “carrying out a profanation of the Virgin Mary of Częstochowa”, referring to the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, a highly revered icon housed in the monastery of Jasna Góra – about 70 kilometers north of Katowice – and one of the holiest Catholic shrines in Poland.

Poland’s Catholic Church said this event filled Polish people – who rank among the least tolerant towards homosexuality and LGBT rights according to recent studies – with “pain and anxiety”. The Polish Interior Minister labelled the posters as “cultural barbarism”, adding that the values of freedom and tolerance “doesn’t give anyone the right to offend the feelings of believers”.

“Offending religious feeling is a crime under the Polish penal code”, The Guardian reminds, and the woman could face up to two years in jail if found guilty and convicted.

Amnesty International denounces “arbitrary” arrest of activist

Reacting to the news, human rights watchdog Amnesty International issued a statement, saying they were “extremely concerned to hear that Elżbieta Podlesna, a Polish human rights activist, was arrested and detained for several hours on spurious charges […] upon her return to Poland from a trip to Belgium and the Netherlands with Amnesty International”.

“Given the lack of evidence of a crime here, we can only see that Elżbieta has been detained for her peaceful activism”, Amnesty International’s Regional Europe researcher Barbora Cernusakova said, calling “on the Polish authorities to stop harassing peaceful protesters and activists in Poland, including by arbitrarily arresting people who stand up for their rights”.

In recent months, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has targeted the LGBT community in an aggressive campaign to mobilize its conservative electorate ahead of two key elections this year. PiS chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski recently described LGBT rights as a foreign import that threatens the traditional values that lie at the heart of Poland’s identity.

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4 comments on “Poland: Activist arrested over posters of Virgin Mary and Jesus with rainbow halo

  1. More Christians ought to be outraged by the continuing mockery of Christianity. Kafkadesk ought to ask what would happen if Jewish religious icons and beliefs were so mocked.

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    • dunnj2017

      @larryzb, nonsense and whataboutism. What kind of law is « offending religious beleif? » Talk about vague. Hate crimes I can understand, but this is far from it. It’s clear retaliation for speaking out against the government.

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    • Milegobbler

      The rainbow Madonna does not offend believers and there is no mockery. From the 19th century New Testament scholars knew that the story of the virgin birth was a late addition to support the Pauline interpretation of Jesus as God. Such an interpretation would require Jesus to be without sin, and a virgin birth would break the cycle of original sin passed down through generations by procreation. This is a fictional story in the Christian epic, and it expresses, not facts, but theological ideas. The crucial idea is that God becomes human and therefore identifies with the whole of humanity: black, white, male, female, gay, straight..
      The poster of the rainbow Madonna is therefore a powerful portrait of Christian belief. It should be displayed in evry church.

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  2. Milegobbler

    No mockery of Christianity in this case. Since the 19th Century New Testament scholars have recognised that the story of a virgin birth is a very late addition, written in support of the Pauline interpretation that Jesus was God. If he was God then he had to be sinless and therefore a virgin birth was required to break the cycle of original sin transmitted through the generations. This is how the Christian epic was written. In that tradition God took on human form and therefore God identifies with the whole of mankind without exception: black, white, male, female, gay, straight. The poster is therefore a moving portrait of Christian belief. It is PiS who, regrettably, do not understand theology and church history and have perverted traditional Christian belief.

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