The artist whose inspirational painting was removed from an Air Force dining hall because it violated military standards is accusing the Pentagon of censoring Christian art.
“On its face, this seems like nothing short of a clear anti-Christian agenda,” said Grant DiCianni, president of Tapestry Productions. His father, Ron, painted the artwork.
“It appears that the Air Force and the Pentagon have undertaken a dangerous war to rid the military of anything that points to Christ and that needs to be brought to light,” DiCianni said.
The painting, titled “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” had been installed in a dining hall at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.
It features a modern-day police officer standing in front of a medieval knight. The flag held in the hand of the knight morphs from a medieval coat of arms into the flag of the United States. The word ‘integrity’ is stenciled over the image. The Bible verse referenced is Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they will be named sons of God.”
The painting was removed less than one hour after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation alerted the Pentagon. They called the painting “repugnant” and an “overt display of Christian nationalism.”
Col. Christopher Short, the commander of the 366th Fighter Wing told Fox News the painting violated military regulations governing the free exercise of religion.
“The document states that we will remain officially neutral regarding religious beliefs – either officially endorsing nor disapproving any faith belief or absence of belief,” he said.
DiCianni said the painting is promoting the idea of integrity in the service of peace.
“It is our belief that this message is one that the modern-day military should be proud to embody - the idea of integrity in the service of peace," he said. "The military is an embodiment of the ultimate peacemaker, a pursuit blessed in Scripture. It would seem this is a message that the Air Force should be willing to foster, not censor.”
DiCianni said they’ve yet to be contacted by anyone at the Pentagon or the Air Force – calling the removal of the painting “deeply disturbing.”
According to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, they filed a complaint after more than 20 unidentified service members took issue with the artwork.
One Airman said the picture “made me feel terribly uncomfortable, disheartened and disappointed.”
The Pentagon has a long history of doing the will of Weinstein and the MRFF.
Last April, the Washington Post detailed a private meeting between Weinstein and Pentagon officials about religious proselytizing.
Weinstein called religious proselytizing “a national security threat.”
“What is happening (aside from sexual assault) is spiritual rape,” he told the newspaper. “And what the Pentagon needs to understand is that it is sedition and treason. It should be punished.”
He called for the military to court martial anyone guilty of religious proselytizing – “you need a half dozen court martials real quick.”
DiCianni said they have the utmost respect for the men and women serving in the military.
“I am certain that this decision does not reflect their values nor does it reflect the beliefs upon which this nation was founded.”
DiCianni did marvel at the speed in which the Pentagon reacted to Weinstein’s complaint.
“From what we understand, the authorization for this action and the removal of the print, took less than 60 minutes from start to finish,” he said. “It seems ironic that a government that couldn’t get aid to an embattled embassy for over 24 hours could get a painting removed in less than an hour.”
Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.) said the censorship raises serious concerns about the Pentagon's relationship with Weinstein. He noted that it took 56 minutes for the military to respond to Weinstein - but they still haven't responded to letters sent by members of Congress more than three weeks ago.
"We are deeply disturbed that the Pentagon continues to comply with the demands of anti-Christian activists while neglecting to even respond to the concerns expressed by service members, and Members of Congress who simply want to protect the right to share one's faith," Boykin said in a prepared statement.
Boykin said the Pentagon's public statements about religious liberty have been confusing - including one from the Air Force that said service members are allowed to share their faith so long as it doesn't make others uncomfortable.
"The Pentagon's response within 56 minutes to this censorship demand makes it abundantly clear that the Air Force's 'uncomfortable' standard has been defined to require the censorship of any vestige of Christianity," Boykin said. "Even a small Scripture reference on a painting honoring our 9/11 heroes can't escape the reach of religious censors."
He said the Pentagon's religious censorship is "having an undeniable chilling effect."