"Blasphemous" Painting of George Floyd as Jesus Stolen

On Wednesday, November 24, a controversial painting of Jesus and Mary was stolen. The painting "Mama" shows a black Mary cradling the body of Jesus after his crucifixion, similar to Michaelangelo's Pieta sculpture. The painting was placed outside the Mary Mirror of Justice Chapel in the Catholic University of America (CAU) Columbus Law School.

The painting drew controversy for depicting Jesus in the likeness of George Floyd, who died on May 25, last year, while being restrained by the police officers.

St. Louis artist Kelly Latimore said he completed "Mama" last year. A plaque below the painting's display says Latimore created the icon "following the violent death of George Floyd." "The image is evocative of the Pieta - The Mother of Sorrows," the statement continued.

This year, the CAU's Columbus School of Law held an unveiling ceremony following their Black History Month program in March. Stephen Payne, the dean for the school of law, opened the ceremony.

Latimore said he had received criticisms over the painting before. The controversy started escalating when Daily Signal published a story about it. Daily Signal is an online news website owned and controlled by Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank based in Washington, D.C.

According to the Daily Signal, many students think that the painting is offensive to the Catholic faith. With one student calling it "another symptom of the liberalization and secularization of our campus." "It is blasphemous and an offense to the Catholic faith," the student added.

Blayne Clegg, former Catholic University College Republicans President, said that comparing George Floyd to Almighty God's sinless son is a "damning disservice to the vast majority of Catholics."

In a statement, John Garvey, CAU president, confirmed that the painting hung in the chapel was stolen. The school also announced that they "replaced the picture with an identical, though smaller, copy that hung in our Campus Ministry office."

Although CAU announced that what they see in the painting is not necessarily George Floyd, they acknowledged that the painting represents an "attempt to include religious imagery on campus that reflects the universality of the Catholic Church."

Speaking to Religion News Services, Latimore admitted that he has been harassed and received death threats since increased media coverage. The hateful messages were racially inspired, with some taking issues with Jesus being depicted as black, Latimore added. "Really white supremacist, racist stuff — which, theologically, is what racism is: a complete denial of the incarnation of Christ," Latimore added.

As of the writing of this article, the CAU administration is conducting investigations regarding the stolen painting.

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