The painting One Nation Under God by Jon McNaughton promotes a Mormon author.
My initial reaction to the painting was that another Christian is using Jesus and the Bible for political propaganda. It seems I was wrong. The evidence points to the artist, Jon McNaughton, as being a Mormon. The name Jon McNaughton can also be found as a speaker at several Book of Mormon Prophecies Conferences.
The photo on the left is taken from McNaughton’s online image of the painting using the zoom feature. As the caption indicates the book on display is The 5000 Year Leap by Mormon author Willard Cleon Skousen.
Not only does this painting propagate Jesus for conservative politics, but Mormonism as well. Conservative, Mormon Glenn Beck has written the foreword to the 30 year anniversary edition of Skousen’s book. This edition has its own web page 5000YearLeap.net showing Beck’s endorsement as well as a promotion of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. These U.S. documents are mentioned because some think the Glenn Beck might be positioning himself to save the Constitution via the White Horse Prophecy.
Speaking of prophecies, Skousen was no stranger to them as noted in Meet the man who changed Glenn Beck’s life by Alexander Zaitchik who shows how Skousen influenced Beck.
As Beck knows, to focus solely on “The 5,000 Year Leap” is to sell the author short. When he died in 2006 at the age of 92, Skousen had authored more than a dozen books and pamphlets on the Red Menace, New World Order conspiracy, Christian child rearing, and Mormon end-times prophecy. It is a body of work that does much to explain Glenn Beck’s bizarre conspiratorial mash-up of recent months, which decries a new darkness at noon and finds strange symbols carefully coded in the retired lobby art of Rockefeller Center. It also suggests that the modern base of the Republican Party is headed to a very strange place.
A Christian, Mormon and political conflation is what is happening. A Telegraph UK article calls McNaughton a “Christian” artist. Huffington Post commenters point to Christianity. You can find a mocking photo-shopped picture of “Jesus” in the comments at Mother Jones. The center piece of the painting is ‘Jesus’ holding the U.S. Constitution as if this nation is some sort of covenant nation like Old Testament Israel. (Not to mention ‘Jesus’ looks like some male model-type white guy.) All one has to do is pay attention and connect the dots. The world seems to see no difference between religions like Mormonism and Christianity. They seem to connect as if conservative politics + any religion using ‘Jesus’ = Christianity. Is this the message that conservative Christians want to portray and/or support in anyway?
Conservative politics are not a bad thing, but they do not equal Christianity. Jesus is not coming back wielding the U.S. Constitution. When political fights overshadow those for the Gospel Christianity adds one more cultural roadblock. Jesus did not say,”Use my image to claim what is Caesar’s.” Christians could benefit by being more out spoken explaining, for example, that this painting does not represent Christianity. Or, that Glenn Beck, as entertaining as he may be, is a Mormon not a Christian. There seems to be silence on these issues when the goal is political change and engagement. However, Christians can agree with others so as to not conflate or hide the Gospel. Christians can speak up and explain their differences and motivations which are grounded in the Gospel.
P.s. There is even a spoof of the painting with new image descriptions.