A piece of art featured at the University of Southern Maine has upset local Christians who use space on the campus to gather for regular worship.

The piece, created by student Riley Harris, is called “Unholy Bible: Very Revised Standard Edition.” As part of an assignment to take a book and repurpose it to create something new, Harris ripped pages of the Holy Bible, created “flames” out of them, and used Satanic images to block out the face of Jesus Christ.

The artwork may have passed muster in the class, but it didn’t sit well with members of the Casco Bay Church of Christ.

“This is someone’s sacred text being desecrated, destroyed and displayed in a public place,” parishioner Charlie Flynn told CentralMaine.com. “I couldn’t help but feel no one’s sacred text should be treated that way. I think it’s very inappropriate and repugnant.”

In his own remarks to the site, Harris said that he was interested in pushing back on church authority.

“I was thinking a lot about questioning authority in general,” said the sophomore art student. “People question different types of authority, but for some reason religious authority seems too taboo to question, so I thought I would give it a shot.”

Flynn said he was supportive of the First Amendment and the student’s right to free expression, but he wondered about the university’s discretion.

“If I saw a Koran with pig blood on it I would certainly call someone, or a Torah with unclean foods on it,” he said. “This is a Bible with Satan’s image put over Jesus’ image and around Christmastime. I don’t understand why that would be viewable in an institution of higher learning. This is USM, a school that services the community.”

Well, it’s interesting that Flynn chose the Koran as an example, because that “project” would have NEVER been displayed in USM’s little art gallery. Not only would the university have insisted that it was disrespectful trash, they would (of course) have been terrified to actually endorse such a display. There’s nothing like the threat of suicide bombings to force people to find, you know, safer religions to mock and scorn.