Controversial Utah County artist Jon McNaughton now has depicted 11 LDS Church presidents from Joseph F. Smith to the present, all in period Boy Scout uniforms, gathered around a campfire.
“I wanted to paint an image that for the first time reveals the relationship between Scouting and the [LDS Church’s all-male] priesthood,” McNaughton writes on his website.
In the center of the group is Boy Scout founder Robert Baden-Powell with current LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, a longtime advocate of Scouting, to his right. The two groups began their partnership in 1913.
“Each log represents the contributions of these men as President Monson reaches out to lay his log on the fire,” McNaughton writes. “It is not any ordinary fire; it illuminates, and it does not burn. The purpose of Scouting is not only to develop honorable young men, but to prepare valiant priesthood holders.”
The 86-year-church president thanked McNaughton in a note, according to a Utah Boy Scouts blog.
“It is an honor to accept this gift from the Utah National Parks Council,” the blog quotes Monson saying. “Thank you very much.”
Several of McNaughton’s earlier paintings, which he categorizes as “patriotic,” have caused a ruckus with their right-wing political messages.
His 2010 painting, “One Nation Under God,” put Jesus Christ in the center of the piece, holding the U.S. Constitution. Surrounding him are various historical figures such as Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Teddy Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronald Reagan
On Jesus’ left — and looking away from him — McNaughton depicts modern figures such as a Supreme Court justice with his head in his hands, a lawyer counting money, a “liberal” news reporter, a professor with a copy of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” and “Mr. Hollywood.”
Lurking behind these men and women is a shrouded figure meant to represent Satan.
“I am not condemning these people,” McNaughton writes on his website. “In fact, the idea of the painting is that they [should] reconsider their positions.”
Since then, McNaughton’s artistic depictions of President Barack Obama in “One Nation Under Socialism,” “Obamanation” and “The Demise of America” leave no doubts amount his opinion of the American leader.
Peggy Fletcher Stack