A Republican congressman is calling for action after the Merchant Marine Academy decided to cover up an iconic painting of Jesus. The painting, entitled “Christ on the Water,” has hung at the academy in Kings Point, New York, since the 1940s, and was inspired by seamen killed during World War II, according to Fox News. In January, the academy decided to cover the painting with a white curtain in response to the objections from 18 students and a complaint filed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
In a statement, the academy said it was responding to “constitutional concerns related to a painting hanging in the Elliot See Conference Room in Wiley Hall.” “Our priority is to ensure the Academy is a welcoming environment for all and that it respects all religions without endorsing one over any others. In light of this, the Academy has chosen to cover the painting with curtains, and will also install a plaque describing its history. The curtains will remain closed when official Academy meetings and events are conducted. This solution balances legal requirements with the concerns of those who have an interest in the painting,” the statement said. Banks disputed the explanation, according to Fox News. “Covering this painting isn’t about ‘constitutional concerns,’ it is just the latest example of the Left’s woke agenda,” Banks said. Banks wrote Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg a letter demanding the painting be restored, without being hidden. The academy is under the jurisdiction of the Maritime Administration, which is part of the Department of Transportation. “The piece, titled “Christ on the Water,” was designated a heritage asset by the Maritime Administration and has significant historical value. The painting depicts an image of Jesus and merchant seamen adrift in a lifeboat during World War II,” he wrote. Banks said the painting is a tribute to those who lost their lives in the war, and that as such it should not be hidden from view. “Between 1939 and 1945, 9,521 merchant mariners lost their lives — a higher number than those killed in any military branch, according to the National World War II Museum,” he wrote. Banks said a 2019 Supreme Court ruling stated that “historic displays with religious symbolism are not a violation of the constitution.” He said he stood with more than 4,400 “midshipmen, alumni and community of the United States Merchant Marine Academy have signed a petition asking for the removal of this curtain to allow the original artwork to be viewed and that a plaque describing the historic significance of the painting be placed alongside it.” In the complaint, Mikey Weinstein, the foundation’s Jewish founder, said the painting was an example of “sectarian Jesus supremacy” and that the painting is housed in a room used for multiple events, including some that are mandatory for all students, according to the Christian Post. “The outrageousness of that Jesus painting’s display is only further exacerbated by the fact that this room is also used regularly for USMMA Honor Code violation boards where midshipmen are literally fighting for their careers, and, often even more, as they face the shameful ignominy of potential expulsion with prejudice if found guilty of USMMA Honor Code violations,” he wrote. Weinstein said students objecting to the painting “quite correctly believe that the display of the ‘Jesus painting’ is totally violative of the clear time, place and manner requirements of the No Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.” “Given the utterly illicit and unconstitutional time, place and manner of its prominent display in one of the main Administration buildings at USMMA, and during absolutely mandatory attendance gatherings there, it clearly projects the sectarian supremacy of Jesus Christ in some sort of obvious ocean rescue scenario for what appears to be distressed mariners in an open boat,” Weinstein said. “It’s as though USMMA is screaming that ‘Jesus Christ is the only approved solution to all of life’s difficulties,” he said. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
DOT’s Merchant Marine Academy Covers WWII ‘Christ on the Water’ Painting; Rep. Banks Demands Sec. Buttigieg End Censorship https://t.co/TteWSpXrkA— Michael W. Chapman (@ChapmanCNSNews) February 14, 2023