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Thread: Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

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    Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

    Football team forced to remove Christian crosses from helmets | Fox News



    Football players at Arkansas State University were ordered to either remove a Christian cross decal from their helmets or modify it into a mathematical sign after a Jonesboro attorney complained that the image violated the U.S. Constitution.

    The cross decal was meant to memorialize former player Markel Owens and former equipment manager Barry Weyer, said athletic director Terry Mohajir. Weyer was killed in a June car crash. Owens was gunned down in Tennessee in January.

    These young men were simply trying to do a good deed. They were standing up for their fallen teammates. It’s really too bad the university could not stand up for the team.
    Barry Weyer, Sr., told me that the players and coaches voluntarily decided to memorialize his son and Owens.

    “The players knew they were both Christians so they decided to use the cross along with their initials,” he said. “They wanted to carry the spirits of Markel and Barry Don onto the field for one more season.”

    It was a decision that had the full support of the university’s athletic director.

    “I support our students’ expression of their faith,” Mohajir said. “I am 100 percent behind our students and coaches.”

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    However, the athletic director said he had no choice but to remove the crosses after he received a message from the university’s legal counsel.

    “It is my opinion that the crosses must be removed from the helmets,” University counsel Lucinda McDaniel wrote to Mohajir. “While we could argue that the cross with the initials of the fallen student and trainer merely memorialize their passing, the symbol we have authorized to convey that message is a Christian cross.”

    According to documents provided to me by Arkansas State, McDaniel gave the football team a choice – they could either remove the cross or modify the decal. And by modify – she meant deface.

    “If the bottom of the cross can be cut off so that the symbol is a plus sign (+) there should be no problem,” she wrote. “It is the Christian symbol which has caused the legal objection.”

    The team had been wearing the decals for two weeks without any complaints. That changed after last Saturday’s nationally televised game against the Tennessee Volunteers.

    Jonesboro attorney Louis Nisenbaum sent McDaniel an email complaining about the cross decal.

    “That is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause as a state endorsement of the Christian religion,” Nisenbaum wrote. “Please advise whether you agree and whether ASU will continue this practice.”

    Ironically, the university’s legal counsel admitted in a letter that there were no specific court cases that addressed crosses on football helmets. Nevertheless, she feared the possibility of a lawsuit.

    “It is my opinion that we will not prevail on that challenge and must remove the crosses from the helmets or alter the symbols so that they are a (plus sign) instead of a cross,” she wrote in an email to the athletic director.

    The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation fired off a letter congratulating the university on cleansing the helmets of the Christian symbol.

    “The crosses appeared to confer State’s endorsement of religion, specifically Christianity,” the FFRF wrote. “The inclusion of the Latin cross on the helmets also excludes the 19 percent of the American population that is non-religious.”

    FFRF co-presidents Annie Lauire Gaylor and Dan Barker went so far as to suggest alternative ways for the football players to mourn.

    “Many teams around the country honor former teammates by putting that player’s number on their helmets or jerseys, or by wearing a black armband,” they wrote. “Either of those options, or another symbolic gesture free from religion imagery, would be appropriate.”

    That suggestion set off the athletic director.

    “I don’t even kinda-sorta care about any organization that tells our students how to grieve,” Mohajir told me. “Everybody grieves differently. I don’t think anybody has the right to tell our students how to memorialize their colleagues, their classmates or any loved ones they have.”

    While Mr. Weyer told me he supports the university “100 percent”, he said he took great offense at the FFRF’s attack.

    “The fact is the cross was honoring two fallen teammates who just happened to be Christians,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I just have a hard time understanding why we as Christians have to be tolerant of everybody else’s rights, but give up ours.”

    I do, too, Mr. Weyer. I do, too.

    Liberty Institute attorney Hiram Sasser told me he would be more than honored to represent the football team in a lawsuit against the university.

    “It is outrage that the university defacing the cross and reducing it to what the university calls a plus sign,” he told me. “It is disgusting.”

    Sasser said the students are well within their rights to wear a cross decal on their helmets and accused the university of breaking the law.

    “It is unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination to force the players to remove or alter the cross on their helmets that they chose themselves simply because the cross is religious,” Sasser said.

    These young men were simply trying to do a good deed. They were standing up for their fallen teammates. It’s really too bad the university could not stand up for the team.

    “The university and others want football players to be positive role models in the community, but as soon as the players promote a positive message honoring their former teammates – the university discriminates against them in a blatant violation of the Constitution.”

    Mr. Weyer said he’s not a political man – but he is a Christian man. And he’s tired of having to kowtow to the politically correct crowd.

    “It’s time that we as Christians stand up and say we’re tired of being pushed around,” he said. “We’re tired of having to bow down to everyone else’s rights. What happened to our rights? The last time I checked it said freedom of religion – not freedom from religion.”

    Well said, Mr. Weyer. Well said.

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    Re: Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

    These militant atheists have failed at life. I pity them. And they don't have true respect for liberty, nor do they interpret the Constitution with integrity.
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    Re: Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfoot 88 View Post
    These militant atheists have failed at life. I pity them. And they don't have true respect for liberty, nor do they interpret the Constitution with integrity.
    I respect the rights of atheists to be such, and find that most are quite decent human beings with whom I get along very well. I would hesitate, therefore, to lump all atheists together, as you seem to, and accuse them of having no respect for liberty.

    I would say, however, that there is a fringe of litigious-minded people out there, who happen to be atheists, who really do go out of their way to redefine "ridiculous."

    In the case of my OP, the players on the team chose to honor a fallen teammate with the symbol of the cross - mainly because the individual who died was devoutly Christian. In my mind, that is a very thoughtful gesture, and one meant to honor who he was and what he stood for in life. I think for anyone to want to take away their ability to grieve as they see fit is not only wrong, but also cruel and not productive.

    What did this lawyer gain from his victory?

    Sometimes, we, as a society, take political correctness to absurd lengths. This is one of those times.

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    Re: Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

    If someone wants to walk around with a cross on his helmet is not my problem. As long as it is completely and utterly of their own free choice and that the players/team/coaches then also respect the person who refuses to put a cross on their helmet because they think it does not symbolize what they believe.
    Former military man (and now babysitter of Donald Trump) John Kelly, is a big loud lying empty barrel!

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    Re: Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter King View Post
    If someone wants to walk around with a cross on his helmet is not my problem. As long as it is completely and utterly of their own free choice and that the players/team/coaches then also respect the person who refuses to put a cross on their helmet because they think it does not symbolize what they believe.
    The players chose to wear the cross on their helmets. It wasn't a decision that came from the university or the coaches.

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    Re: Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Grimm View Post
    The players chose to wear the cross on their helmets. It wasn't a decision that came from the university or the coaches.
    So? As long as it was not forced upon players who did not want to wear a cross on their helmets I could care less. And I am an atheist.
    Former military man (and now babysitter of Donald Trump) John Kelly, is a big loud lying empty barrel!

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    Re: Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

    Are students at the college allowed to wear crosses around their necks? Jewish stars?

    The Constitution ensures we have the right to our religious beliefs....as long as no students were forced to display the crosses, what is the problem? Why cant they express their belief?
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    Re: Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

    This wasn't a legal case as I see it, but an over-cautious administration - I suspect that the case would not have survived courtroom proceedings, but that the admin decided it wasn't worth the hassle/bad publicity. I would also have no issues with players wearing the cross, as long as it wasn't 'officially endorsed' (which does not seem to be the case) and it wasn't a safety risk (get a free cross-shaped bruise with every headbutt!)
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    Re: Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Grimm View Post
    I respect the rights of atheists to be such, and find that most are quite decent human beings with whom I get along very well. I would hesitate, therefore, to lump all atheists together, as you seem to, and accuse them of having no respect for liberty.

    I would say, however, that there is a fringe of litigious-minded people out there, who happen to be atheists, who really do go out of their way to redefine "ridiculous."

    In the case of my OP, the players on the team chose to honor a fallen teammate with the symbol of the cross - mainly because the individual who died was devoutly Christian. In my mind, that is a very thoughtful gesture, and one meant to honor who he was and what he stood for in life. I think for anyone to want to take away their ability to grieve as they see fit is not only wrong, but also cruel and not productive.

    What did this lawyer gain from his victory?

    Sometimes, we, as a society, take political correctness to absurd lengths. This is one of those times.
    This is Debate Politics, many here make an industry of lumping people together.

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    Re: Football team forced to remove crosses from helmets

    Definitely sounds like a case where the administration of the college overreacted to a complaint that was just plain stupid. As others have said, so long as they weren't forced to wear them in any way, the players should be free to wear them, especially as they were on their helmets where it poses no safety risk I can think of.
    "A woman is like a teabag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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