Marine Corps Special Operations Command has removed an image from its Facebook page that portrayed retired Gen. James Mattis as a saint.
Posted after news broke Thursday night that Mattis will be President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of defense, the meme is one of the many popular tributes to Mattis on the internet. It showed "Saint Mattis of Quantico, Patron Saint of Chaos" holding a hand grenade and a knife in the style of a Renaissance painting.
"Hail Mattis, full of hate," read a brief prayer underneath. "Our troops stand with thee. Blessed art thou among the enlisted. And blessed is the fruit of thy knife hand. Holy Mattis, father of War, pray for us heathen / Now and in the hour of our combat / Amen."
MARSOC removed the meme Friday after a complaint, Maj. Nicholas Mannweiler, a MARSOC spokesman, said.
Mannweiler said the meme was meant to show Mattis' support among Marines, not to make a religious statement. He said he consulted with Catholics who are close to him to see if the meme was offensive before posting it and he was told no.
But, he said, he took the meme down after receiving a single negative comment.
"MARSOC is committed to professionalism and supporting our great country," he said. "No offense was intended."
Marine Corps Special Operations Command took down this meme of retired Gen. James Mattis from its Facebook page.Photo Credit: Marine Corps Special Operations Command's Facebook page. The image of Mattis is a photo illustration created by OAF Nation, a veteran-operated military apparel company that is selling posters of "St. Mattis" online for $24.95. The poster is just one of many products bearing Mattis' likeness being marketed by a small cottage industry that has grown up around the renowned general.
Mattis, whose blunt talk can sound like a cross between Marcus Aurelius and Clint Eastwood, is revered by many Marines as a consummate warrior who is fiercely devoted to those who serve under him.
Although most of the Facebook comments about the meme were wildly supportive, one person said he thought the meme was inappropriate.
"I don't know but making fun of Jesus Christ on an official page by the government is not the right thing to do," the person commented. "And I'm saying it as my opinion as a Catholic supporting MARSOC and the Marines and the entire military except this type of behavior."
Several people responded by saying the meme was meant to pay tribute to Mattis, not make fun of Jesus.
"Just like General [Chesty] Puller All the Marines would follow these men straight into hell so try to understand we look at him like a warrior saint," one person responded.
Another quipped: "Calm down liberal it'd be a shame if the flying knife hands find your safe space."
This is not the first time MARSOC has had trouble with social media. In January 2014, MARSOC briefly posted a message for Martin Luther King Jr. Day showing an armed Marine with the words: "Don’t be lone shooter #MLK weekend! make sure you’ve got security - stay safe!"
Shortly afterward, the command posted on Facebook explaining that the message was meant to encourage Marines to look out for each other during the long weekend.
"When we were alerted to the potential that this military post could be viewed as insensitive or offensive when combined with the historical facts concerning Martin Luther King Jr., we immediately took it down and apologize for any unintended disrespect or misperceptions," the Facebook post said.