Crucified Stormtrooper statue in church exhibition relocated after parishioners complain

Sophie Jamieson
Some parishioners found the statue offensive - SWNS.com

A statue of a crucified Star Wars Stormtrooper in a church exhibition has prompted as a row, as parishioners complain it is "offensive to Christians".

The controversial piece of art, which features a large model of one of the film's soldier characters attached to a cross, has been moved from a prominent position in a new exhibition at St Stephen Walbrook  in central London to the back of the church.

It forms part of a  'Stations of the Cross' exhibition, which also features the work of Francis Bacon. The exhibition has been organised in support of the Missing Tom Fund, set up to find Tom Moore, who was last seen in 2003. 

A St Walbrook churchgoer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It's a bit silly really: why use our church?

"It's plainly offensive to Christians, to be honest." 

The artwork was designed to prompt debate Credit: Paul Davey /SWNS

But a nun, who wished to remain anonymous said: "I didn't find the big crucifixion offensive. It's not my taste, but there you go."

Francis McKenna, from Isleworth, west London, said: "I thought the art was surprising - I've never seen things like this in a church.

"The Star Wars character was a bit weird, I didn't care for that so much."

Tom Moore's brother Ben, who is organising the exhibition, said: "I didn't intend to upset anyone, I like to raise awareness for my missing brother, I haven't seen him since 2003."

He added: "I aim to create awareness and debate." 

Artist Ryan Callanan created the controversial statue, which will go on sale for £12,000 once the exhibition has ended. 

St Walbrook is a 500-year-old domed church designed by Sir Christopher Wren that survived the Blitz. 

The rector, Reverend Jonathan Evens said: "This is an exhibition of images designed to provoke thought from artists grappling with their response to the challenge and scandal of Christ's cross.

"Among these, Ryan Callahan's Stormtrooper Crucifixion may be viewed as being among the more controversial images in the exhibition." 

He added: "For me Stormtrooper Crucifixion raises similar questions to those which CS Lewis raised in his science fiction trilogy - that, were other races to exist on other planets, would Christ be incarnated among those races in order to die for their salvation?

"Lewis' view, which he sets out in the story running through the trilogy, is that Christ would do so.

"For Christians, Ryan Callahan's image can lead us a similar conclusion.

"I commend these images to you as image that can open our ideas and minds to new reflections on the eternal significance of Christ's sacrifice.'