[Update, Saturday, 9 pm Eastern: Ranger Up also promoted the vulgar image on their Twitter account.]
On Friday, Ranger Up, an apparel company that sells "shirts for the military and the patriotic Americans who love the men and women of the Armed Forces", inexplicably posted a crude rendition of Pope Benedict XVI on their Facebook page, which has over 82,000 fans. The graphic invokes a famous Marilyn Monroe scene in the movie The Seven Year Itch. Instead of standing on the streets of New York City, the Pope is in the middle of a park in the tropics, and a little girl appears to be running away in horror of the sight of the pontiff's bare legs. [image below the jump]
So far, over 350 people have "liked" the image on Facebook, it's been shared 122 times, and several anti-Catholic posts have been left on its comment thread, with no reply or comment from the anyone at the company.
Someone who works for the pro-military company, which was started by people who "either were or are still in the military", must have found the crass Photoshopped image funny. However, it ultimately only serves the agenda of those who would like to smear all Catholic clerics as perverts who like to abuse children.
The graphic also dishonors the hundreds of thousands of Catholics who have served in the U.S. military since the American Revolution. Many of them died in the defense of the American republic. The two Navy SEALs who were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for sacrificing their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq - Michael Murphy and Michael Monsoor - were both Catholic. [image at right found at The Catholic Voice; courtesy CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec]
Ranger Up's decision to post the image is even more incomprehensible in light of the fact that they sell T-shirts, sweatshirts, and even fight shorts with an image of Holy Michael the Archangel on them. The company describes the T-shirt in the following way:
The Archangel Saint Michael is the protector saint of Warriors, Paratroopers, and Police Officers.
When the idea for this shirt came to us from one of our fans in Law Enforcement, I immediately thought of the Saint Michael pendant I carried with me every day of my military career. My grandmother gave it to me right before I went to Airborne School and I carried it with me until the day I hung up the uniform. Shortly therafter, I asked the rest of the guys on Team Ranger Up if I was alone in doing this, and found out that every single one of us carried Saint Michael with us.
We knew this had to be a shirt and we poured our hearts and souls into this one. Here's hoping Saint Michael looks over you as well as he did us.
As for what the company should do about the vulgar image on their Facebook page, they should follow the example of the first commander-in-chief, George Washington, who banned the celebration of the anti-Catholic Guy Fawkes Day shortly after taking command of the Continental Army outside of Boston in 1775.