Immoral/Occult Images in Other People's Homes - Do We Say or Do Anything?

There is a really active thread right now about removing religious items from sight when objecting family members come to visit. The consensus seems to be that guests do not have the right to complain about decor in another person’s home, and it’s incredibly poor taste to do so. I agree with that.

However, while reading the thread I thought of two situations I was in that dealt with a similar issue, although I was the guest and the “questionable material” was very different in nature.

One was several years ago before my husband and I were married. His roommate at the time displayed pornographic images in their apartment (today my husband would have put his foot down from the start about it, but that wasn’t his attitude back then.) Anyway, whenever the roommate was out and I would visit, my husband would turn the pictures around so they weren’t visible. One time the roommate came home before I left and my husband put the pictures back, and the roommate blew up at us (mostly me) because “I had no right to touch his belongings or say what was or was not OK to display in his home.” Same argument, but very different material. Thankfully, the roommate soon moved out (there were a lot of other issues), but until then I just quit going there and we would hang out elsewhere.

The other was a few weeks ago. We stayed with my parents for a little over a week and stayed in my sister’s room (she still lives at home.) Although I don’t think she actually practices any kind of occult religion, she had several items related to the occult in her room, including a large picture over the bed that invoked some kind of “sleep demon.” I was very uncomfortable with that image in particular and so put it in her closet while we were there. I did not say anything to her about it and don’t even know if she noticed (she slept in another room during our visit), but was it wrong to do what I did?

Although clearly there’s some other family dynamics at play in the other thread, I also can understand why some people would be very uncomfortable with displays of the crucifixion, especially the realistic ones. I probably wouldn’t display anything like that in my own home, although I have found such images moving.

I guess I am wondering if it matters what, exactly, a person displays in their home, if guests can say anything or not. I think my default would be to move anything seriously offensive out of sight at least while I was there, and then just avoid returning. I would probably NOT say something, unless there was some other opportunity to evangelize. If a person asked why I avoided visiting, I might admit my unease.


I don’t say a word. It’s not my home, not my place. Even when it’s family. I wouldn’t expect someone to come over to my house and complain about a crucifix on my wall, so I don’t go to someone else’s house and complain about their pentacle or whatever.

The roommate in scenario 1 was being a bit of a jerk. Part of being a roommate is respecting the sensibilities and wishes of housemates. He should have confined his pornographic images to his own private space and used other pieces to decorate shared public spaces.

I don’t think you did anything wrong by placing the offending picture your sister displayed in her closet as long as you were careful not to damage it and put it back before you left.

This reminds me of years ago when we were renting. The house next door was occupied by four young men aged between 19 and 21. They got the bright idea to cover their bathroom walls in clippings from porno mags. The images were cut out and taped all over the walls. Not a clear spot to be found. On the rare occasion one of their mothers came to visit they asked if I minded letting her use my bathroom because they didn’t want a mom to see what they’d done. Of course, I didn’t mind. I thought of it as more of a favor to the mother!

Hm, I don’t think you should have been messing with other people’s stuff, although in your husband’s case it was his living space too. If you’re uncomfortable with the items in a host’s house, you can certainly ask the host if (s)he would mind removing them. If the host refuses, you can leave or you can remain quiet about the items. No “sleep demons,” idols, or any other images can have power over those protected by Christ, so say a silent prayer and rest assured that He will not allow you to be harmed.

I do think that pornography and deliberately demonic images are different from religious items; I would not ask a Hindu to cover up idols, nor would I ask a Wiccan to remove his/her candles or crystals, much as I disagree with the use of these items and the belief systems they represent.

I would not say anything. It’s not my place to say. When you say pornographic is it tasteless art that involves nudity or actual pornography?

If you are offended or feel compromised by objects or art in other people’s homes I would not go there again. If you are comfortable asking about the occult items in your sister’s room you may find out they are not what you thought they were or she may find out that they are more than just decorations and want to take them down. I feel that we have to be true to our beliefs but sometimes we have to accept that not everyone agrees with us. In those cases not entering the homes where we are compromised seems the best solution to me.

If it was a family member, like in the case of the sleep demon, I wold say "sorry, but i can’t sleep with that over my head. If that is not acceptable, then i would sleep on the couch or get a hotel room.

Anybody else, it would be my last visit there. "Decor’ is a reflection of someone’s taste or affiliations, a road sign if you will. I pay attention to signs and warnings. This is just my take on things.

There was a thread once on “Can objects be cursed?” The consensuses was, that if objects could be blessed, it stood to reason they could be cursed. While we can certainly receive protection from such things, why put yourself through the discomfort of being in their presence.

“Questionable material” is often a subjective term. As I sit in my office right now, on my bookshelves, I have a pair of jade Fu dog statues, a brass Buddha, a brass Chinese deity of some sort, an three feng shui carvings (a three legged toad, a dragon, and a stallion on a pile of coins, all of which are gifts from Chinese colleagues from when my wife and I lived in the Republic of China.

I am not, and have not used them as items of faith or worship, but each are pieces of nice examples of cultural art.

Anyone finding these to be “questionable material” would have a fit if they ever had the pleasure to visit the Vatican Museum.

I once stayed at a friends MILs, she had really creepy dolls in the room. I placed them in the cupoboard carefully so as not to be damaged. I forgot to put them back so she asked me where they were. She didn’t mind me moving them but teased me about it for a while.

As for just visiting, I wouldn’t say anything although as your husband lived in the house too, he had every right to move things in the public spaces so his room mate overreacted on that occasion.

I would also ask yourself if you would find it acceptable for a guest in your home to remove the crucifix in the guest bedroom, and move it to the closet. Or turn a picture of the Sacred Heart around to face the wall.

:smiley: I too have a set of wooden foo dogs, and a few Buddha statues. They are just art objects. Buddha, would not have liked it if he thought he was the object of worship. This statue was given to me as a gift when I dated a Buddhist substance abuse councilor during the 80s.

As far as housemates, personally I’ve always come to an agreement with them that we keep the common area “common”, all decorations need to be approved by all parties involved, and we can do what we want in our private rooms. Since bathrooms are used by guests, those are kept neutral as well.

When we are uncomfortable with the decos or religious objects of others, we can let them know and ask they be removed during our stay, or we can suggest we meet on neutral territory, or at our place.

I don’t think it is appropriate to remove another person’s belongings without asking first. I’ve had friends who stayed and I told them in any of the art or objects in the guest room made them uncomfortable I would remove them. They were not of objectional nature (I don’t think) but I’m an artist and we keep some of my larger pieces there and some people don’t want to sleep under a painting of a 4 foot salamander!

Some people, understandably, feel it would be a sleight on their faith to remove religious articles to appease the sensibilities of guests, and I think that is when it’s good to agree on gathering at a neutral territory.

The crucifix is such a common fixture to Catholics, that sometimes they dont’ understand how upsetting that image can be, especially to children of other faiths. They are not objecting to the faith as much as to a particular image.

Which is why we have to stick to one important fact, Jesus Christ is God. His image is intrinsically good. It isn’t a matter of “decor” and it isn’t at all equivalent with a sleep demon (intrinsically evil) or pornography (also intrinsically evil). Replace “porn” or “sleep demon” with “Hitler portrait” or “image of Klansmen lynching a black man” and see if you are still comfortable making the equivalence to the image of the Sacred Heart. Some images deserve to be turned around or placed in a closet. Some don’t.

Objecting to the Crucifix is objecting to the Faith.

Never go anywhere without carrying a holy card or two and a vial of Holy Water. You can always prop the pictures up against a lamp on the night stand and sprinkle Holy Water around the room and on the bed before retiring for the night.

I don’t see how in the world your sister would be offended.

Years ago my sister and her husband came from Germany for a visit and being short on space we let them sleep in our room (my husbands and mine). I was really into macramé at that time and had made some owls with big beads for eyes. Well this creepy owl looking at her must have made her uncomfortable because she took it down and set it on the table.I laughed when I saw it and realized they were sort of weird looking.

Seeing something occult may give you an opening to ask about it and explain why it is objectionable.

If done tactfully and with care for the person it may plant a seed, even if they may scoff at you for what you said.

My answer is basically the same as it was on the other thread: Their house, they can have whatever they like in it. If you don’t like it, stay elsewhere.

In some lines of work, I’ve been in a lot of people’s homes, including their bedrooms and basements. And I sure have seen a lot of not so good things. My attitude about it all is very simple: it’s their home. It is definitely not my place to ask them to move anything. I’m all about doing business in a courteous and respectful manner so I don’t invite any discussion even when I see things that evoke my disrespect and/or disgust. My parents raised me not to bring up politics or religion when in someone’s home, especially that of a stranger. But I will still find myself sometimes saying a silent prayer regarding what I see.

By the same token, I will not move any of my Christian/Catholic items in my own home. If someone says anything about them, that is an opportunity to talk about my faith.

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