BTW DRIVING BEAR:
You have a misconstrued view of the purpose of religious art. A written word is a symbol of a reality the same as a picture, only the letters form sound first. The word stands in for a picture.
I may have a picture of a dog, but if I have a picture of MY dog, that conjures up all kinds of emotions, memories, etc. It is a specific dog, not just dogs in general.
A picture of Christ, especially of a crucifix is specifically Jesus. It cannot be mistaken for anyone else in history or the world. It brings to mind the single-most important moment in the universe. It is a manifestation to your mind, and therefore your heart, of the moment the image represents, as well as who or what it represents. You have heard the phrase, a picture is worth a thousand words. It is the same way with all icons.
A religious icon is a phsyical manifestation of a spiritual reality. The picture itself is not what is manifested, but the entire concept it represents enters the eye, and into the heart and soul. The mind, and by default, the soul is forced, if you will, to think about and consider that which the picture represents. In the same way the image of something bad, say a picture of pornography is permanently damaging. It is so because it leaves an imprint on the soul along with the sensual excitement. Remember what Jesus said about sinning in thought. Looking at pornography is a sin by way of thought. A picture of Godly things is good for the soul. This is why God forbid idols. Their souls would accept these objects and worship them as their god. This was a false reality. God cannot withstand falsity.
Religious art, to us, is a lot like living in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus, along with the rest of the Body of Christ, because we are unified, is made present to us by these pictures. We see a picture of a Saint, and we get a warm fuzzy because this person shows us the Way through his example. We think; I want to be as in love with God as this person. St. Terese is not my God anymore than my grandmother is. Yet, seeing a picture of them both may ellicit a warm, fuzzy feeling.
An image of Jesus automatically leads to our worship of Him because He is our God. His image causes our souls to bring him to our conscience. Perhaps, at that moment He wanted to remind us that He is there. I can give a specific example of this in my own life, but I wont bore you further. My point is, we worship, venerate or reject an image according to what we in our hearts believe about that object. Some have a negative reaction because they hate God. I will not analyze why Protestants hate the crucifix, though it is tempting.
Your fear of religious art has to do with prejudice and fear.