The Arkansas State University football team found itself in a bit of a controversy after their televised game against Tennessee last Saturday. Their helmets were adorned with a Christian cross on the back with the initials of two fallen friends of the team; Markel Owens, a player, and Barry Weyer, the equipment manager.
In order to comply with the First Amendment's prohibition of a state-sponsored religion, the memorial dedicated to the memory of the two men could not be a religious symbol on helmets, which are public university property. ASU legal counsel, Lucinda McDaniel, advised the athletic director, Terry Mohajir to either remove the cross or change it. Fox News portrays the "controversy" with their usual degree of Christian outrage. 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,”.... “It is the Christian symbol which has caused the legal objection.”
Barry Weyer Sr. was heartbroken the cross was changed to a straight line with both men's initials on it. He sadly stated,
"that takes away from the whole point of honoring...I mean, whattaya got now?...you've got a flat-line. Flat-line means you're dead. I don't agree with that."... “I just have a hard time understanding why we as Christians have to be tolerant of everybody else’s rights, but give up ours.”
Fox News and the Arkansas State Christian Community never imagined that the Christian symbol, a symbol of death, might be offensive to those who worship differently (or Atheists). After the crosses were removed, 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.”
Don't worry Christian foot soldiers, the Liberty Institute will step in and save the day. Much like Dominionist lunatics Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachmann, Activist Catholic Justices on SCOTUS and CEOs like the Green Family, these Republicans dream of waging a holy war against anyone who tries to curtail their obsession with making America a Christian Theocracy. Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute attorney, told Fox's Todd Starnes (who believes marriage equality will eventually lead to human-dog unions), he would be more than honored to represent the football team in a lawsuit against the university.
In deep red Arkansas, you'd better believe any perceived threat to the worship of THE Almighty Jesus Christ will be met with stoic resistance. FFRF suggests ways other teams around the country,
honor former teammates by putting that player’s number on their helmets or jerseys, or by wearing a black armband. Either of those options, or another symbolic gesture free from religion imagery, would be appropriate.
For all their talk of the sanctity of the Constitution, these Christian enthusiasts surely love to cherry-pick their amendments. Many have called for the adoption of the Ten Commandments, with Draconian Old Testament-style justice, as the law of the land. They dream someday, they can, much like Islamic Fundamentalists, force the unwilling non-believers to adopt their way of thinking. It might just start with small gestures like religious symbols on public property, but who knows where it would end? Remember Don't Ask Don't Tell? Remember the Crusades and the Inquisition? Fanaticism has no limits.