So there I was in Golden Gate Park tracking a giant blue bird and then when I looked up, I saw a hippy on a Jesus trip coming straight towards me larger than life.
Like this. See the robe, the beads, the sandals, the cross with the letters JHS* or IHS? This statue is a like a giant Catholic billboard on public land.
Check it, a huge bronze by Douglas Tilden made in 1906 and dedicated in 1907:
Via mharrsch – click to expand
So, here’s the Baby Name Wizard’s take on Junipero:
“Father Junipero Serra: Spanish Franciscan Friar. He is very well-known as a misogynistic abuser of native slaves and women, but remains an important historical figure in Central California.”
O.K. then. (Wow, a little harsh, huh?)
But what do you think Father Junípero Serra is trying to communicate here?
And what do you think the City and County of San Francisco is trying to promote by allowing public land for this kind of use?
Now, for some Christians, this statue, and the Prayerbook Cross just down the way, are not enough. These people go into the Music Concourse, see Father Serra and then get bummed:
“I was just there today, and as a Christian, I was very dismayed by the fact that it seems the park administration has allowed the landscaping to STRATEGICALLY block out the base of the sculpture that has the inscribed descriptions of Junipero Serra. It’s religiously discriminatory and outright insulting, and apparently it’s condoned by the city. But then Jesus said his followers would be hated. At least we were warned.”
I’ll agree that the shrubbery appears to have been placed around this statue to obsure it somewhat. This kind of cover could be, as they say, constitutionally significant – it could affect a judge’s or a jury’s opinion on whether it’s kosher for San Francisco to reserve its land for this kind of message.
Father J was much more prominent back in the day. See?
I’ll tell you, our neighbors to the south in Los Angeles had similar issue with a cross that was a part of its history – here’s the story of how they handled it.
How will San Francisco handle the case the Father Serra proselytizing in the GGP?
Now, shouldn’t Golden Gate Park be a proselytizing-free zone reserved as a place for giant blue birds to eat rodents…
…and recycle aluminum cans?
You Make The Call.
*Now, about that inscription on the crossbar. It’s just a Christogram that spells out the first three letters of the name Jesus. So, it goes J-E-S, or Iota–Eta–Sigma. There’s no need to make up a backronym like Iesus Hominum Salvator or nothing.