DOT’s Merchant Marine Academy Covers WWII ‘Christ on the Water’ Painting; Rep. Banks Demands Sec. Buttigieg End Censorship

“Christ on the Water,” an historic painting created during World War II, which has been displayed at the Transportation Department’s U.S. Merchant Marine Academy since 1947, has been covered up, and Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) is demanding that Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg end the censorship.

The painting of Jesus in front of a World War II lifeboat of merchant seamen was shrouded last month in order to capitulate to a group of 18 people who objected to its display.

But, in a letter to Buttigieg, obtained by Fox News Digital, Rep. Banks explains to the Transportation Secretary that the painting is a designated heritage asset and, as such, does not violate the constitution, per Supreme Court precedent.

As Fox News reports:

“The piece, titled “Christ on the Water,” was designated a heritage asset by the Maritime Administration and has significant historical value,” Banks wrote. “The painting depicts an image of Jesus and merchant seamen adrift in a lifeboat during World War II.”

Banks wrote that in “2019, the Supreme Court ruled that historic displays with religious symbolism are not a violation of the constitution” and that in “this case, the justices defended the preservation of a large cross monument because it was erected nearly a century ago as a memorial to soldiers lost in World War I – very similar to Wood’s painting.”

On Monday, Rep. Banks tweeted a call to action in defense of the painting:


“The Christ on the Water painting is a historic piece that has provided hope and inspiration to nearly every class of midshipmen to come through the Academy.

“This is just the latest example of the Left’s woke agenda. We must fight back!”

Indeed, in 2009, when President Joe Biden was vice president, Georgetown University said it covered over the monogram “IHS” (symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ) because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there.

In his statement to Fox News, Rep. Banks expressed his support for a petition to uncover “Christ on the Water.” To-date, the petition has been signed by more than forty-four hundred midshipmen, alumni and community of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

The petition also calls for the addition of a plaque explaining the historical significance of the painting:

“The midshipmen, alumni and community of the United States Merchant Marine Academy who sign this petition are requesting that any form of covering be removed to allow the original artwork to be viewed and that a plaque describing the historic significance of the painting be placed alongside it.”

Also known as “Jesus and Lifeboat,” “Christ on the Water” was painted in 1944 by U.S. Maritime Service Lt. Hunter Wood.


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