A painting of George Floyd depicted as Jesus Christ displayed at a Catholic university is "heretical, blasphemous idolatry," a student told Fox News.
Blayne Clegg, a junior at the Catholic University of America, was shocked when he saw the painting hanging outside the law school’s chapel a few weeks ago.
"There's a fine line between recognizing the innate dignity and righteousness of human beings that are made in the image of God and embracing brazen, progressive politics," Clegg told Fox News.
Kelly Latimore's painting, titled "Mama," shows a mother mourning her son and evokes Michelangelo's sculpture "La Pieta," according to the school. Michelangelo's work depicts the virgin mother Mary holding Jesus Christ.
Students' reactions to the painting have been "universally negative," Clegg told Fox News. "I haven't found anybody who's been able to give a serious theological justification for this kind of heretical, blasphemous idolatry."
"Jesus has been depicted as many different races, but Jesus is always depicted as nothing but Jesus, the sinless son of Almighty God," Clegg continued. "There has never, to my knowledge, been any serious, respected Catholic theologian or icon maker who has depicted Jesus Christ as another human being."
The university unveiled "Mama" as part of Black History Month, according to a March news release from the law school’s website.
"Following the violent death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, Latimore created this icon in June of that year," the description posted with the painting reads.
"The image is evocative of the Pietà – the Mother of Sorrows," the description continues. "May Mary, the Mirror of Justice, hear the cry of all who have known the sorrow of losing a loved one to violence and injustice. Amen."
Clegg, a former Catholic University College Republicans president, told Fox News: "It's hard to imagine that progressive politics could be fully embraced by university faculty and staff and administrators at the Catholic University of America."
The school’s Vice President of Communications responded to Fox’s request for comment saying, "The icon ‘Mama’ is a pieta depicting Mary and her Son, Jesus Christ. The letters in the halo are Ὁ ὬΝ, which is shorthand in Greek for ‘I Am.’ The letters are used in icons only in connection with Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
The statement continued, "There are those who would like to see George Floyd as the male figure in the icon. That is not how we read it. The image represents to our community a good-faith attempt to include religious imagery on campus that reflects the universality of the Catholic Church."
Students at the Catholic University have started a petition to remove the paintings from their campus.
Teny Sahakian is an Associate Producer/Writer for Fox News. Follow Teny Sahakian on Twitter at @tenysahakian. If you've got a tip, you can email Teny at Teny.Sahakian@fox.com