For weeks now, this bucolic northern Colorado city of just over 60,000, which has a vibrant arts community, has been bitterly divided over the controversial artwork that once sat in the empty display of the Loveland Museum Gallery where the sign now rests.
Some here interpreted the small image, which was part of a lithographic print exhibition by the San Francisco artist Enrique Chagoya, as showing Jesus Christ engaged in a sex act with another man, and demanded its removal.
Last Wednesday, amid heated public debate over the exhibit and daily protests in front of the museum, a 56-year-old Montana truck driver named Kathleen Folden walked into the gallery.
Wearing a T-shirt that read “My Savior Is Tougher Than Nails,” Ms. Folden strode up to the exhibit, took out a crowbar and proceeded to smash the plexiglass casing. To the horror of visitors, she then ripped up the print, just as police officers arrived.
“People were asking her, ‘Why’d you do this?’ ” recalled Mark Michaels, a Colorado art dealer, who witnessed the event and grabbed Ms. Folden. “She said, ‘Because it desecrates my Lord.’ ”
In a slightly different context, these actions would have given rise to a nationwide "Everybody Draw Jesus Having Sex With a Dude Day" and endless lectures about the inability of the Christians to co-exist peacefully in a liberal culture without threats of violence to make the rest of us conform to their practices.