Statues and Ancient Religious Art in Modern Religion


I know that the Abrahamic religions tend to dislike idolatry.  In fact, they dislike it a great deal.  This has recently come to the forefront of religious conversation when Egyptian conservatives began pushing to have the ancient statues and religious sites of Egypt covered with wax or otherwise hidden because the statues are idols and forbidden.

What statues are included in this classification of idolatry? Everything from the Sphinx to the temples to statues around cities.  This seems to be a fairly broad category, and from what I can tell is not only an attack on religion but an attack on history as well.  Those statues, those buildings, have existed for thousands of years, through many bloody human wars and accidents and gods only know how many mistakes that have destroyed or nearly destroyed other such specimens of ancient work.  And now they want to hide away the beauty of Egypt’s history?  It’s as if these particular conservatives would like nothing better to do but rewrite the history of their country to wipe out any mention of a Pagan or non-Abrahamic (or in this case, non-Islamic) past.

This doesn’t just apply to Egypt either.  I’m certain this occurs in other countries as well, where certain group attempt to eradicate signs of what they consider to be idolatry or symbols of a Pagan history, and the US is not exempt.

My question is: how do the idols hurt you as a conservative?  It’s not as if you’re the one worshiping them, or adoring them, or doing anything with them.  Why is it so wrong for other people to appreciate ancient artwork?  Even if those people aren’t Pagans–and many are not–what about archaeologists and artists and just plain old tourists who like ancient history?  How are they hurting you or  conservative ideals by appreciating ancient artwork?  Religious extremism is not a good reason to hide away statues and buildings and art that contribute to worldwide knowledge and culture as a whole.  Who hasn’t seen a picture of the Sphinx?  Hiding the statues would only make those conservatives look ridiculous, as people know what they look like underneath the cloth or wax covering.  We would still know they were there.  The only solution for those groups is to destroy the statues, and that’s not a solution that I think anyone would advocate or allow except for religious extremists like this.

Hiding historical artifacts does not make the historical past go away.  It’s wishful thinking at best, and infringement on collective culture, history, and religious beliefs at worst.

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3 responses to “Statues and Ancient Religious Art in Modern Religion

  1. Iconoclasm has a long history.
    The sudden threat to Egyptian antiquity is appalling.

    I do not know about idols. It would take some time to familiarize myself with how people act around icons and holy stuff, but I think it all comes down to an entryway to the Deity….
    in a world created by God, there are infinite paths, but some people insist on just one… upon which they own the toll booth.

  2. The sunflowers are really a great spectacle.

  3. Good post! It’s not something I normally think about. Props.

    I dunno, maybe they’re just trying to imitate some of the gung-ho Old Testament idol-topplers? Either way, LAME, for all the reasons you stated.

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