In Davidson, North Carolina, St. Alban's Episcopal church is causing a bit of controversy with their recent sculpture installation. As a memorial for a parishioner who "loved public art," the church purchased a bronze sculpture entitled Jesus the Homeless by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz and had it installed on a park bench.
According to NPR, some members of the affluent neighborhood that the church serves were not happy with the depiction of their savior as a vagrant. One guy wrote a letter to the editor of DavidsonNews.net saying that it "creeps him out," and someone else called the cops because they thought it was a real homeless man. Reverend David Buck stands behind the choice and says that the sculpture "gives authenticity" to their church.
The sculptor says that the purpose of the piece (one of many religious statues that he has created) is to "challenge people." He recalls presenting the Pope with a minature version of the same statue and says "he touched the knee of the Jesus the Homeless sculpture, and closed his eyes and prayed...It was like, that's what he's doing throughout the whole world: Pope Francis is reaching out to the marginalized."