HOBART, Australia (ChurchMilitant.com) - Christians are expressing outrage after a controversial, Satan-inspired festival erected 65-foot inverted crosses throughout the town.
This is the sixth year the Museum of New and Old Art (MONA) has organized the three-week Dark Mofo Festival, and Christians around Hobart are fearful the occult theme of this year's festival is inviting dark forces.
The festival program features numerous satanic or pagan events, one Catholic calling it "a celebration of evil and paganism." In one event called "The Purging," visitors can offer their fears to "a demon-like sculpture derived from Balinese Hindu tradition." That sculpture is later burnt.
There are several satanic death metal bands featured in the event, "Hymns to the Dead," that perform with an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on the stage. On the event page for Electric Wizard, it boldly states, "Lucifer, I summon thee to my Black Mass."
"We're dealing with spiritual forces here," said Mark Brown, the Tasmanian director of the Australian Christian Lobby. He said he didn't think the event organizers "would disagree with the spiritual realm being a real thing."
Brown said he experienced "fear, anxiety and torment" when dealing with the occult saying, "I don't think those are things most people would want to invite in willingly or unwillingly."
Millionaire and professional gambler David Walsh is the owner of MONA and has been credited with turning Hobart into a tourism destination. In 2017, Walsh announced he would be building a five-star hotel called HOMO.
Walsh grew up Catholic, believing he was a product of the rape of his mother because after she "got religion," he said his father became violent. He said his mother was told by a priest that, because it was a second marriage, there can be no physical relationship. Although he was born a year later, Walsh believes she obeyed the priest. His parents separated when he was two years old.
Walsh attended a Catholic school that he claimed was renowned for its harshness and took to wandering the Tasmanian Museum instead of going to Mass.
Kim Valentine, a pastor in Hobart, said "There are many things about MONA that have a veiled joke at Christianity."
Upside-down crosses are commonly believed to be satanic. Valentine explains, "Tradition says St. Peter was crucified on an upside-down cross and it's a sign, in that respect, of humility."
The Church has used the upside-down cross (without a corpus, so not a crucifix) to designate Peter, not Christ.
Catholic exchange explains further, "Unlike an upside-down crucifix, which seeks to invert and subvert its meaning, there is nothing satanic about an upside-down cross."
Other Christians were also not offended. Mike Lynch, campus director of the University of Tasmania Fellowship of Christians said his first reaction was "a bit of an eye roll," calling Walsh a "shock jock." He noted that, for some people, the cross is a precious religious symbol and would find the upside-down display "hurtful."
"For Christians, the cross is a symbol of shame and it's about God taking on shame for the salvation of the word, so there's a weird irony in getting offended by a symbol which in itself is offensive," Lynch said.
Brown is calling on Christians to speak out about the display. He said the occult theme of the festival isn't something the residents would want, warning, "the devil only comes to kill, steal and destroy."
The Dark Mofo Festival also features "two intense days of people who live and die by their words." The "Dark and Dangerous Thoughts" sessions feature a number of activists speaking on topics ranging from Antifa, immigration and animal cruelty.
"Sanctioned Killing" features ex-jihadist Muhammad Manwar Ali and one of the first female guerrillas, Niromi de Soyza. A former priest, Paul Collins, and author of Absolute Power: How the Pope Became the Most Influential Man in the World, is one of the speakers discussing whether the Catholic faith deserves respect in the session, "Should the Church be Saved?"
Valentine said, "I wonder why Islam is not ridiculed in the same way."
MONA did not respond to requests for comment from Church Militant.
Featured image courtesy of Dark Mofo.