FFRF destroys a crusader

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is killing off a crusading public school mascot.

Ken Caryl Middle School in Littleton, Colo., has a “crusader” as its mascot. The figure is a cloaked knight holding a shield and sword. Latin crosses on the tunic and shield mark him out to be a member of Knights Templar, one of the most feared fighting units in the Crusades.

FFRF reminded the school district that a school mascot should not be derived from the Crusades, since they were incredibly divisive and violent. The Crusaders were zealous warriors who slaughtered Jews, Muslims and other Christians in the name of religion. The whole effort was a disaster that to this day mars the West’s relationship with the Middle East.

“The religious nature of the mascot, its historical context, and the two Latin crosses, make the conclusion unavoidable—the mascot is religious and the school is endorsing religion over nonreligion,” FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel wrote in an early March letter to Dan McMinimee, the superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools. “The government (including public schools) is prohibited from endorsing religion over nonreligion just as it is prohibited from endorsing one religious sect over another. Standing alone, the crusader’s crosses are an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, and when paired with the religious mascot and the historical context, the endorsement is exacerbated.” 

FFRF pointed out to the school district that a lot of universities and organizations, including Christian outfits, with crusader-type mascots have gotten rid of them in recent years. It urged the school to do so, too.

The school district indicated in a recent response that it would be heeding FFRF’s advice.

“The district is in the process of forming a diverse group of parents, students, staff and community members to consider your feedback and develop and/or review submissions for a new mascot/logo for Ken Caryl Middle School,” McMinimee replied in a March 15 email. “We anticipate the process to be finished by the start of next school year.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased.

“Schools should not be choosing a religion-linked symbol as a mascot,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “They need to be particularly wary when the symbol is associated with such a religiously contentious historical event.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a state/church watchdog organization with 23,000 members, including more than 600 in Colorado.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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