Four House Republicans, all of whom attended U.S. military academies, authored a letter raising concerns over media reports indicating a historic painting that memorializes sailors lost at sea during WWII with a depiction of Jesus Christ is being covered up with the threat of removal.
The letter obtained by Breitbart News, led by Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) and sent to Superintendent of the United States Merchant Marine Academy Vice Admiral Joanna M. Nunan, references news reports of Nunan directing staff to cover up a historic painting — “Christ on the Water,” located in Wiley Hall — indicating that the “painting will be hidden during official events” and supports its removal.
Garcia told Breitbart News that, “A woke military is a broke military.”
“Covering up a painting memorializing World War II sailors because it includes a depiction of Jesus Christ is shameful,” he added. “We should be doing more to honor and respect the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform, not less. We should remember that we are one nation under God.”
In addition to Garcia, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, three other Republicans signed the letter, including: Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy; Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX), who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy; and Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy.
This comes in the wake of Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, sent a letter to Nunan in January, demanding that the 10-foot by 19-foot painting — which depicts an image of Jesus and merchant seamen adrift in a lifeboat — should be “expeditiously remove[d]” because it is “illustrating the supremacy of Jesus Christ.”
The House Republicans said that the painting does not violate religious freedom concerns. They noted the Supreme Court, in cases such as Van Orden v. Perry, “found that as long as the display of religious messages or symbols of historical significance were not done for a religious purpose, it does not violate First Amendment protections.”
In addition, the Republicans referred to American Legion v. American Humanist Association, where “retaining established, religiously expressive monuments, symbols, and practices is quite different from erecting or adopting new ones.”
The group of House Republicans acknowledged that the historical painting was painted in 1944 by U.S. Maritime Service Lt. Hunter Wood, a graduate of the New York Merchant Marine Academy, and has been in hanging at the academy for nearly 80 years.
As the Republicans noted, the painting “is an important reminder to every midshipman of the risks they take and the sacrifices of those who came before them” and has “become a prescient warning of the dangers Merchant Marines would face in the conflict.”
“No branch of the American military lost a higher percentage of servicemen during the war than the Merchant Marines, who were tasked with escorting convoys across the submarine-infested waters of the Pacific and Atlantic,” the group noted in the letter. “It is vital that these sacrifices are honored and that midshipmen understand the legacy of those who went before them.”
The Republicans are demanding answers to a series of questions regarding the painting by February 24, as they believe the painting holds important historical significance to the Academy.
Signed – Letter to USMMA Re… by Breitbart News