As part of the city’s annual winter festival, several large red crosses, known as the Cross of Saint Peter, have been erected in prominent positions around the waterfront.
Inverted crosses are also used as a symbol of the anti-Christ and many in the Christian community have expressed offence at the 20-metre-high art installations.
Other Christian leaders have called for calm, while many residents have taken delight in photographing the bright crosses.
The Dark Mofo festival is renowned for turning heads and creating controversy and last year involved a bloody sacrificial ritual using a bull.
Mark Brown, Tasmanian director of the Australian Christian Lobby, said the signs were “highly offensive” to Christians because of the occult themes in Dark Mofo.
“The cross is a very important symbol,” he said.
“In the words of Jesus, the devil only comes to kill, steal and to destroy; my question is, is that something Hobartians really want?”
Mr Brown called on Christians to speak out about the art.
“We’re dealing with spiritual forces here. I don’t think those involved with this event, David Walsh and Leigh Carmichael, would disagree with the spiritual realm being a real thing.”
He said his own experience with the occult resulted in fear, anxiety and torment.
“I don’t think those are things most people would want to invite in willingly or unwillingly.”
Hobart pastor Kim Valentine said he was “offended but not scared”.
He said there were other Christian links in this year’s festival, such as artist Mike Parr burying himself under the road.
“There are many things about MONA that have a veiled joke at Christianity; another is the guy being buried under Macquarie Street and being resurrected three days later,” Mr Valentine said.
“There’s also a positive twist to this. Tradition says Saint Peter was crucified on an upside-down cross and it’s a sign, in that respect, of humility.
“I wonder why Islam is not ridiculed in the same way?”
Anba Suriel, the Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne said, “This act has come as an offensive shock to millions of Christians around Australia. For more than a millennium, inverted crosses have been used by Satanic worship groups as an anti-Christian symbol in mockery of Jesus Christ.”
“The display of such anti-Christian sentiment around Hobart is deeply offensive to me as a Christian, a Coptic Orthodox Christian bishop who has witnessed the living reality of persecution, and many other Christians who have lost loved ones or suffered themselves for their faith. Even today, in many parts of the world, people risk their lives by secretly carrying or displaying crosses.
It would not be acceptable to use an Islamic crescent or the Jewish Star of David, or the symbol of any other faith as a form of mockery against their respective faiths in the name of art today. Nor should it be appropriate to use the most central Christian symbol in this way,” the Bishop said.
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