"This Case of Conscience”: Spiritual Flushing and the Remonstrance
April 6 - June 29, 2008

In the new millennium, religion, its relation to the state and mutual respect are hot-button issues across the globe. In Flushing, Queens, this very conversation started 350 years ago with the Flushing Remonstrance. The Flushing Remonstrance was drafted in 1657 and signed by a group of Flushing residents who were offended by the persecution of religions outside the established Reformed Dutch Church. This document is considered by many to be a precursor to the Bill of Rights’ provision for freedom of religion. Throughout 2008, the Queens Borough President’s Office will offer cultural programming in conjunction with over 15 New York City (NYC) institutions to honor this most historic anniversary. To commemorate the homecoming of the Remonstrance, QMA will present the original document in conjunction with images of historical materials from the New York State Archives.

More than a show about the distant past, the exhibition seeks to explore the continued relevance of this unique moment of tolerance within our distinctively diverse environment. Embracing the notion that art can and should actively address and engage contemporary issues, Queens Museum of Art has invited five contemporary artists - Emmy Catedral, Takashi Horisaki, Sara Rahbar, José Ruiz, and Tattfoo Tan - to partner with religious institutions in Flushing to create works that respond to religious dialogue and exchange. Components of each project will be exhibited both in the Museum and in Flushing at participating religious sites. Four commissioned photographers - Kim Badawi, Jenny Jozwiak, Stephanie Keith, and Scott Lewis - will capture the religious variety of Flushing. An open call invites photographers from all walks of life and religious persuasions to participate in a large display of images that celebrate religious freedom in this vibrant community.


Image and text of Historical Flushing Remonstrance:

Right Honorable

You have been pleased to send unto us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they are supposed to be, by some, seducers of the people. For our part we cannot condemn them in this case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them, for out of Christ God is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Wee desire therefore in this case not to judge least we be judged, neither to condemn least we be condemned, but rather let every man stand or fall to his own Master. Wee are bounde by the law to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith. And though for the present we seem to be unsensible for the law and the Law giver, yet when death and the Law assault us, if wee have our advocate to seeke, who shall plead for us in this case of conscience betwixt God and our own souls; the powers of this world can neither attach us, neither excuse us, for if God justifye who can condemn and if God condemn there is none can justifye.

And for those jealousies and suspicions which some have of them, that they are destructive unto Magistracy and Ministerye, that cannot bee, for the Magistrate hath his sword in his hand and the Minister hath the sword in his hand, as witnesse those two great examples, which all Magistrates and Ministers are to follow, Moses and Christ, whom God raised up maintained and defended against all enemies both of flesh and spirit; and therefore that of God will stand, and that which is of man will come to nothing. And as the Lord hath taught Moses or the civil power to give an outward liberty in the state, by the law written in his heart designed for the good of all, and can truly judge who is good, who is evil, who is true and who is false, and can pass definitive sentence of life or death against that man which arises up against the fundamental law of the States General; soe he hath made his ministers a savor of life unto life and a savor of death unto death.

The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sons of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage. And because our Saviour sayeth it is impossible but that offences will come, but woe unto him by whom they cometh, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title hee appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them, desiring to doe unto all men as we desire all men should doe unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Saviour sayeth this is the law and the prophets.

Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing.

Written this 27th of December in the year 1657, by mee.

Edward Hart, Clericus

Additional Signers
Tobias Feake
Nathaniel Tue
The Mark of William Noble
Nicholas Blackford
The Mark of Micah Tue
William Thorne, seignor
The Mark of William Thorne, junior
The Mark of Philipp Ud
Edward Tarne
Robert Field, senior
John Store
Robert Field, junior
Nathaniel Hefferd
Nick Colas Parsell
Benjamin Hubbard
Michael Milner
The Mark of Henry Townsend
William Pigion
George Wright
The Mark of John Foard
George Clere
Henry Semtell
Elias Doughtie
Edward Hart
Antonie Feild
John Mastine
Richard Stockton
John Townesend
Edward Griffine
Edward Farrington


Reading materials

NYT article: A Colony with a Conscience by Kenneth T. Jackson
NYT article: Precursor of the Constitution Goes on Display in Queens by Glenn Colins
Better Health Channel: Food culture and religion Religion and Food Religion and Dietary Practices
The Material History of American Religion Project: Eating the Faith, food and religion in the Protestant mainline
Flushing Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
The Melting Pot on a High Boil in Flushing



I try to grasp and internalize the utopian ideology that we are all one. I believe that we should look at what unites us and not what is different about us and bring forth positive ideas, knowledge and wisdom, the best of humanity, to propel us forward and allow us to survive. Race, sexual orientation, religion, nationality are all labels that divide us, keep us from coexisting.

When we talk about food and religion, we think of various religious foods and their symbolic meanings and rituals. I want to concentrate on the food that can be shared among all people, common food, even if it sometimes might just be a snack and a soda. Is religion sweet? Is it a quick fix? Is it just different brands?

I hope to use the soda and snack vending machine and turn it into a share-a-prayer machine. The first step is to work with various churches, temples and synagogues and ask for prayer requests from their individual congregants. The prayer request will be in the form of a circular self-adhesive sticker. The members of the congregation can fill in their prayer requests using a permanent marker on the sticker. I’ll then place the sticker on various snacks and soda cans in the cafe area. During the exhibition period the snack and soda will be free but a donation box be placed next to the machine. One can choose to take the snack for free or place some money into the box. Charity is also very important to religion and is a factor in how economics works in organized religion. Salvation is free but religion is not.

Visitors to the Queens Museum of Art will be able to use and enjoy some snacks and sodas and be asked for a prayer request by someone that they do not know. They can choose to pray at their own time or simply walk to the next artwork where a nondenominational chapel is ready for their usage. This links both our pieces of artwork together.

The wall and floor near the machine will be decorated with graphics to direct attention to the art installation, which uses the vending machine.

350 years ago, the residents of Flushing stood up not for themselves but for their neighbors, fellow human beings the Quakers who were being denied religious freedom. 350 years later we need to take a bigger steps and do the same: pray for others to prove the 350-year-old document of religious tolerance is still indeed alive today.



The Artist would like to acknowledge the religious leaders and their congregation who welcomed him with open arms and open mind. Thank you.

G. Padmanabhan,The Hindu Temple Society of North America, Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam,
45-57 Bowne Street, Flushing, NY 11354

The Rt. Rev. Richard L. Shimpfky, Rev. Paul Xie, Rev. Edwin T. Chase, St. George's Church,
135-32 38th Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354

Scott Huang, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation,
13777 Northern Blvd., Flushing, NY 11354

Mohammad Tariq Sherwani, Muslim Center of New York,
137-58 Geranium Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354

Pastor Deuk Youn Moon and JungHwa Yang, Evergreen Presbyterian Korean Church,
Queens Borough Hill Community Church, 60-02 138th Street, Flushing, NY 11354

Rev. Ming Tung, China Buddhist Association,
136-12 39th Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354

Rev. Nicholas Genevieve-Tweed and Annette Webb, Mecedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church,
37-22 Union Street, Flushing, NY 11354

Dilip Chahan and Hari Mehta, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha,
43-38 Bowne Street, Flushing, NY 11354

Henry Shen, Temple of Mercy Charity,
135-23 37th Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354

Rev. Stephen Kong, Boon Church, Oversea Chinese Mission,
43-72 Bowne Street, Flushing, NY 11354

Ian White Maher and Essie Williams, The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Queens,
147-54 Ash Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354

Rev. Dario Palasi, St. John's Episcopal Church,
149-49 Sandford Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354

Tattfoo Tan, Share-A-Prayer, 2008
Community based intervention, commission by The Queens Museum of Art
Vending machine, soda cans, snacks, and adhesive stickers with prayers request by various religious organizations in Flushing


The mosaic of life in Flushing


Poets in the Galleries II

The Queens Museum of Art announces its second season of Poets in the Galleries, the interdisciplinary poetry series that utilizes the Museum's exhibition space as an invigorating site of exploration, interactive readings and discussion. Each Sunday a different poet will conduct a lively presentation in response to the Museum's current exhibition, "This case of Conscience": Spiritual Flushing and the Remonstrance. These gifted participants, all distinguished voices in the local, national and international literary scene, will share their poetry and responses to the works on view with Museum visitors. The ensuing dialogue will surely foster provocative intellectual exchanges and provide wide-rangeing audiences with new ways of accessing both the poetry on offer and the Museum's resources. "This Case of Conscience" lends itself especially well to the series by creating an open-ended forum in which all participants can explore the links between art and poetry, as well as related themes of religious freedom, mutual respect, diversity and spirituality.

Textpiece II is a new species of literature-gathering object specific to museums, galleries and other sites that are dedicated to exhibiting works of art. It is a specific print-object that collects diverse literary writing in relation to exhibitions. It is not a gallery guide, though for the duration of the exhibition Textpiece II will be made available to be experienced in the gallery space. It is not quite a "journal", a "magazine", a "chapbook", or any other type of print object already named and recognized. It is not quite "artwork for the page", but rather literary work for the gallery. All the writings appearing here are previously unpublished work.

Vijay Seshadri, Cate Marvin, Rigoberto Gonzålez, Tina Chang, Eleanor Lehman, Thomas Sayers Ellis
Poets in the Galleries is curated by June Yang and organized by Prerana Reddy.

Thomas's poem relates directly to Share-A-Prayer


Thomas Sayers Ellis
Religion Vendors


You don't get what you pay
      you get prayer, packaged, the contents
having survived
      the manufacturer's confession,
the scripture inside
salted in sin, powdered,
      the kind you can wipe or lick away
the same way the sky
      erases each day.
Through a slot, the dollar


flattens, like Jesus, just
      for those who need change
or the diabetic come
      that precedes resurrection.
Faith is full of shadows.
Greedy God sticks to every thing,
      to bars, to chips,
to crackers and peanuts.
      Arms reaching
into Sunday's lower mouth


already miracle this, their
      bellies full of psalms
that agree, grammatically, with the consonants of thorns.
      Each sacrificed bag,
a thief as punctured as a lamb.
Raisins full of churches.
      Imagine that,
non-denominational snacking
      and the bodies of witness