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Following Faith
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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Mormons alter Bloch's angels so they're wingless and not sleeveless

Mormon officials clearly love the religious paintings of 19th-century Danish artist, Carl Heinrich Bloch. Prints of his Jesus images are everywhere in Mormondom – on meetinghouse walls, in member homes and in official publications.

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In 2010-11, LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University staged an exhibit of Bloch's giant altar paintings.

Bloch's work is, however, theologically touchy for Mormons in at least one element – angels.

During the exhibit, curators acknowledged sheepishly that sometimes in the past the Utah-based church had airbrushed out angel wings on Bloch reproductions, reflecting the Mormon view that angels are resurrected humans, not some kind of flying creatures.

Well, now the church has added an even more contemporary concern – modesty.

In its December 2011 Ensign, the church's official magazine, the female angels in Bloch's painting are wingless and have cap sleeves on their shoulders.

The blog dovesandserpents spotted the deletions and additions.

"I feel like someone has hijacked my religious train car and steered it right off the rails," wrote Heather, who posted the piece. "We’re so concerned with modesty that we have now taken to modifying a beautiful piece of artwork (originally painted in 1873) before publishing it in our official church magazine so that it reflects our hyper-vigilance with regard to modesty?"

On top of that, she wondered, why didn't they cover up the resurrected Jesus' nipple? The off-the-shoulder look doesn't meet Mormon men's dress code, either.

The LDS Church declined to comment to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Peggy Fletcher Stack



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