Destroys Ancient Qur'an And Calls It "Activism"

Gay Artist Burns “Hate,” History

Charles Merrill‘s latest act gives new meaning to “incendiary”. In an effort to protest spiritually sanctioned homophobia, Merrill tuned his ire into fire.

The 72-year old artist activist, who used to be married to Johnson & Johnson heiress Evangeline, took it upon himself to ignite an antique Qur’an valued at $60,000. He also recently used markers and scissors to edit a copy of the Bible. No surprise Merrill’s take on the protests are just as combustible as the actions themselves:

The purpose of editing and burning Abrahamic Holy Books is to eliminate homophobic hate. Both ancient books are terrorist manuals… Airplanes are flown into buildings because of words, [as are] hate crimes against gays.

Talk about an explosive statement! We understand religion can be used for evil, but Merrill seems to forget that it can also be used for good.

So, where did Merrill get the now destroyed book? The King of Jordan gave it to his late wife in the 1950s, when Evangeline traveled the world spreading the peaceful word of the United Nations.

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  • BillieXX

    Defacing books as protest?!?!?!? Mmmmm. This sounds strangely familiar and it’s wrong.

  • WWH

    Qur’an??? C’mon!

  • Mr. B

    Wow, Merrill, way to negate your argument with your own bigotry. What a piece of work.

  • GoodBuddy

    “Art is anything you can get away with” – Marshall McLuhan/Andy Warhol

    If you can’t achieve fame (accomplishment) you can have notoriety (bad behavior).

  • james_boston

    Good for him! As crazy as the bible-thumping Christians are (and they are crazy), the fundamentalist Muslims are in a league of their own. And all over some fiction written centuries ago. Fucking loons!! Let’s stop pretending as if we have to tolerate the intolerant and their idiotic beliefs…step foot in Iran, declare yourself gay and see how long you last before you’re executed. The Islamists are fucking nuts and it’s about time we say so openly, like we do about the Jerry Falwells of the world.

  • cjc

    How does this help? Seriously. It doesn’t. Just because a group of fundamentalist Christians use the Bible to spew hate, does that mean Bibles should be burned? I don’t think so.

  • Qjersey

    “We understand religion can be used for evil, but Merrill seems to forget that it can also be used for good.”

    What are you smoking? When was the last time any big religious group spent as much time and energy on something good as they do on demonizing queers?

    All that money sure would feed a lot a people, build lots of homes in N.Orleans, and so on and so on.

  • BillieXX


    So to fight terror we resort to book burning??!?! That is what we need to do?

  • nycstudman

    I was just taken on a tourr of an AIDS facility that services indigent populations. Their funding has been slashed, so they had to get rid of their whole mental health division, slash funds to feed people, get them to doctors, etc.

    $60,000 would have been vital to this organization. but this publicity-seeking asshole (with the help of enablers like queerty) would rather burn some book.

    What a selfish asshole.

  • Martini-boy

    As an activist statement, Merill’s behaviour may have proved his point, albeit rather violently.

    As an artistic statement, it sucked.
    (This coming from the art historian)

  • james_boston


    Who cares? He’s a provocateur…it’s what they do. Let him burn our flag, the Koran, the Bible…it’s a free country. Let’s not act like our crazy brethren and lynch him. Why is everyone upset that he burned something that is causing so much trouble and hate in the world? Because it’s supposed to be “holy”? Puh-leeze! This is the 21st century right? Right?

  • hisurfer

    Homophobia is rooted in a culture, not in some book. You can read these books any way you choose, so I don’t see how burning them is going to stop hate.

    I’m not sure how he relates any of this to 9-11. Weren’t some of the bombers lovers? And the Taliban, by all accounts, were openly bisexual whose camps were populated by make-up wearing boy prostitutes.

    So the “Islamists are worse than Fundie Christians” argument doesn’t mean a thing to me. I’d feel safer in Arkansas then Tehran, absolutely. But I felt safer being queer in Istanbul and Jakarta than I did in Arkansas.*

    And though I’m an atheist, I really can’t see religion as the root of all evil.

    * I pick on Arkansas because it was the one place I experienced full-on homophobia, & I hadn’t even done anything except for drive into a small town with California plates.

  • BillieXX


    Yeah I know it’s a free country and I know what book burning means also. No one is trying to lynch him but if you think book burning is an effective political tool then we not on the same team.

  • stonerboy711

    Religion isn’t the root of all evil, but it is the root of the worst ORGANIZED evil that is facing the ENTIRE world today. I hope his encore performance is buying and burning a mosque, church and temple all at the same time! I’ll be there roasting marshmellows.

  • james_boston

    Amen stonerboy…amen. Whether or not burning a “holy” book is an effective way of expressing oneself, all I know is that at least the loony Christians don’t riot and kill when someone makes a painting of Jesus Christ dipped in urine (did any of you guys show the same outrage you’re showing now when that happened a few years ago in NYC? Didn’t think so)or someone makes a chocolate statue of Barak Obama posing as Jesus. They whine a little and move on. But the Muslims in the middle east go on a murderous rampage when someone makes fun of Mohammed in a cartoon in Denmark, thousands of miles away from where they live. All I know is, while our society may not be perfect theirs is a fucking mess and we need to stop tiptoeing around that fact.

  • Lamb Cannon

    I LIKE IT!

    To all the sissy boys posting their gay rage, take your little pink dicks out and whack them. I’m proud NOT to be on your team!

    Fuck all the religious koox and supernatural believers of all stripes, yesterday, today and tomorrow… fuck the “Metropolitan Community Church”, fuck the priests, fuck the righteous dyke ministerettes, all the believers in pathetic lies… at least Tammie Faye had the decency to drop dead in my lifetime

  • Lamb Cannon

    And I quote Dan Savage:

    “Anybody who pretends to know something they couldn’t possibly know is EVIL.”

  • Tallskin

    Thought you all might like to know what our anti-muslims are saying about this issue, so I paste a link to their website – they are vilely homophobic usually and this is a “moderate” UK muslim website and they often call for gays to be executed.

    Oh, and I will finish off by quoting:
    Blaise Pascal:

    “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

  • Tallskin

    Oops sorry I meant to say what our anti gay muslims are saying not anti muslim!



  • hisurfer

    “To all the sissy boys posting their gay rage …”

    What rage? Some of us said we don’t agree with book burning. No angry words, no condemnation, no attacks. Just: we don’t agree.

    100% of the insults, attacks and angry words in this thread are coming from this guy’s defenders.

    I just came back from the UK website, and I couldn’t find any “vilely homophobic” statements. One poster said it was a shame, one said he hopes the guy rots in hell, and a third calls the guy a “silly sodomite.” Maybe the vile comments were removed by the moderator. What is left is pretty mild compared to what I can read … oh … here on Queerty.

  • cjc

    I can understand gay rage at religion. I admit, I’ve felt it. But some of the responses on here make me just as disgusted as the Jerry Falwells and Osama bin Ladens of the world. Why be so hateful in return? Where does it get you?

  • RyRy

    I agree cjc. What that guy did was just dumb. How pathetic can we be? I think that’s the lowest thing I’ve heard filed under the name as protest. We are better than this, so much better. You can’t destroy something because it doesn’t agree with who you are. You can either subscribe to the belief, or walk away from it; this is more than just GLBT. The Quran is a text millions live by — some people interpret it one way, others another. Grow the fuck up pussy.

  • Martini-boy

    By the way, James_Boston, the painting you speak of is really NOT a painting. It’s a photograph by Andres Serrano depicting a plastic crucifix immersed in urine. And, the controversy didn’t happen a few years ago; it happened almost twenty years ago, in ’89.

    If you’re going to make an argument, at least get your facts straight.

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