Religious group demands restoration of cross on Arkansas State helmets | Arkansas Blog

Monday, September 15, 2014

Religious group demands restoration of cross on Arkansas State helmets

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge images.jpg
A conservative Christian outfit that aims to promote religion in public life through legal action is demanding — supposedly in the name of an anonymous football player — that Arkansas State University restore a cross to players' football helmets as part of a memorial tribute. 

The crosses — but not the memorial tribute — were removed on advice of university counsel after questions were raised by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

It is ironic that the Liberty Institute says the player fears retaliation if he identifies himself. The ASU athletic director has already said he, his coaches and players were unhappy about the decision. Who's going to retaliate in this state, where the custom is to oppress the rights of minorities by forcing Christian prayer and other observances on the unwilling at public institutions? Threat of retaliation is precisely what allows majority Christians to cram their religion down the throats of all in public venues all over Arkansas.

The Liberty Institute contends ASU has infringed on private speech by having a portion of the memorial message removed to eliminate the cross. It is clearly within the school's power to control what symbols and words appear on its taxpayer-financed uniforms. If not, any player could put anything on his helmet, could he not? A naked woman, a star of David, a Muslim crescent? Oh, but, of course, no good Arkansas Christian would do that. Or they dare not. Somebody probably would retaliate. But, if ASU has crossed a viewpoint line by removing the religion portion of the message, it can remedy the matter by removing the memorial entirely to satisfy the bullies at the Liberty Institute.

I'm reminded again of Greene County Tech, near ASU, which defied a complaint about regular erection of a Christian Nativity scene in an elementary school.  The law is on the side of the ACLU, which made a complaint. But finding a plaintiff willing to take on such angry defiance is a difficult thing.

It couldn't be clearer at ASU that the fight for the Liberty Institute is about advancing the cause of religion, not the memorial to the dead friends.

The Liberty Institute (which intervened to protect regular visits by church groups to Conway schools) demand:

Liberty Institute on behalf of its client—an Arkansas State University football player who wishes to remain anonymous because he fears retaliation by the university—sent a demand letter to university officials for violating his team’s free speech rights for censoring a student memorial helmet sticker. Recently, university officials defaced the stickers by physically trimming them into a straight line—to remove the vertical line that once formed a cross—in an effort to erase any and all religious references from public sight.

“We are about to find out if Arkansas State University will follow the law or simply used the excuse of the FFRF letter to purposefully engage in unconstitutional religious viewpoint discrimination,” said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute Litigation Director. “The players put themselves through a physical, emotional, and mental grind throughout the year to stand up and represent everything that is good about Arkansas State University, its fans, its alumni and the surrounding community. Now we will find out if Arkansas State University will stand up for them and the Constitution of the United States.”

The letter requests that ASU officials cease censoring and publicly acknowledge, in writing, the right of its students to engage in private speech by Sept. 17, to avoid further legal action. To view a copy of the demand letter online, follow this link.

Liberty Institute is a national nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, inside our military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our Founding Fathers. For information, visit

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (15)

Showing 1-15 of 15

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-15 of 15

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation