(City of) Steubenville Yields to Militant Secularists

I work at Franciscan University of Steubenville. I am open about this. But what I write here is entirely my opinion and does not reflect the official position of the University in any manner. That you can find here.

The logo of the city of Steubenville, as adopted in December 2011

The city of Steubenville logo, as adopted in December 2011

Now my two cents: The city of Steubenville adopted a new logo in December which included a Revolutionary War soldier and the reproduction of Revolutionary War-era Fort Steuben, for which the city is named, the cityscape, and the dominant image of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, the most prominent visual feature of the area. Off to the side of the logo is the steeple and cross atop Christ the King Chapel, the most prominent feature of the logo of Franciscan University of Steubenville. The University lauded the city for this inclusion.

It was right and appropriate for the city to include the logo of the University in its logo.

Today we learned that the city, bowing to pressure from the militantly secularist Freedom From Religion Foundation, has decided to remove the Chapel and cross.

Franciscan University’s iconic cross and chapel were not included in the city’s logo because we are a Catholic institution. They were not included because the Chapel is especially lovely. They were included because the city logo was intended to represent the most prominent features of life in the city of Steubenville, and Franciscan University of Steubenville has been one of those for decades.

Franciscan University of Steubenville is one of the largest employers in the city, second only to the hospital system (though I may be wrong—we may have surpassed the hospitals). Franciscan brings thousands of people from across the country and many other countries, not only as students, but many thousands every summer for our robust and unique summer conferences. Those thousands of people plus the hundreds of families of faculty and staff who live in and around this city who are raising their children here because of this University contribute mightily to the local economy. Many public-private partnerships have seen the University and the city collaborate to improve life here in town. Our student-led missionary outreach activities directly assist the most disadvantaged in town. And Franciscan University of Steubenville has changed Steubenville’s place “on the map.”

Even just thirty years ago if someone outside the Ohio River Valley had heard of Steubenville the association was mob activity, drugs, and prostitution. Abe Bryan, the late, long-time, beloved coach of the Steubenville “Big Red” football team (high school football passion here rivals that of any school in Texas), said as much during his acceptance speech when the University honored him with the President’s Award at the 2011 Century Club Awards Dinner.

But, Bryan noted, when Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, took the reins of the dying College of Steubenville in 1974, launched the household system and the summer conferences in 1975 a whole new chapter began. Now, because of the fearless faith of our graduates going nationwide to teach and lead with a love for the Church, and particularly because our youth conferences happen in 14 locations nationwide and one in Canada, if someone has heard of Steubenville across this country the association is Franciscan University of Steubenville and our summer conferences—they may know it only as “Steubenville,” or “Steubie U” and not even know that it’s called “Franciscan University,” so associated with the city has our activity become.

The phenomenon is global as well. Fifteen years ago during a Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Blessed John Paul II was welcoming the different groups who had come. When he mentioned the students who had come to Rome from our perennial study abroad program in Austria our students let out a cheer loud enough that the great Pope paused, turned, smiled, and said, “Ah, Steubenville!”

And more recently this happened (how can you not love that pause and smile)?

“Steubenville” is known because Franciscan University of Steubenville is known.

The major element of the University’s logo was included in the city logo not because Franciscan is a Catholic institution but because it is a major component of the life of the city in a way no other institution is. Not to include the University’s logo would be to ignore a major part of what makes this city what it is.

To say it another way: the University logo was incorporated into the city logo because the University is a major part of the city just as the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge and Historic Fort Steuben are. Inclusion does not push Christianity on anyone and does not make the city’s logo an exclusively Christian work of art—it recognizes the reality of the life of the city. The city offered to include another campus structure in the logo, an offer the University refused because no other edifice or architectural feature so directly represents the institution—no representation at all would be equal to unrecognizable representation.

Thus the University is dis-recognized simply because some militant secularists have a too-broad reading of the Establishment Clause. The same justification that keeps “In God We Trust” on our money, “under God” in the Pledge, and that allows St. Louis, Corpus Christi, St. Augustine, and the countless cities that start with “San” in the southwest and all over California to retain their Christian-origin names applies here. Use of Christian imagery in the logo is a result of the decision to honor what makes the locality what it is rather than the motivating principle of the new logo design.

And, to put it bluntly, because I know this will come up in the comments, if a Jewish temple or a mosque were as significant in Steubenville as is Franciscan University of Steubenville I would heartily support the inclusion of a Star of David or a minaret with crescent moon in the logo. I would not feel it endorsed those religions, but bespoke the prominence of those institutions in the city. But they are not. Franciscan University is. Our logo is the steeple of our chapel. The city saw fit to include us in the logo. No oppressive threats of lawsuits from outsiders should alter that.

We have public creches and menorahs, chaplains of all faiths paid by the military, various religious symbols in countless government places, and many other manifestations of the religious heritage of the citizens of this country in places owned and operated by the government. The push to remove them all is an attack on the heritage that has formed this country and to supplant all religion with irreligion, which results in the religion of the state and the raw exercise of power. That push needs to be resisted rather than settled out of court.



  • Teej

    Thanks for the link. will take a look. Its appreciated

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      My pleasure.

  • teej

    I am actually more curious as to whether or not the University itself has sold out. From what I understand, the University is, as of this fall, no longer providing health insurance to its students because of the HHS mandate. This is according to Lifesitenews.com (http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/franciscan-university-of-steubenville-drops-student-health-plan-over-hhs-ma/). But, from what I also understand, they are continuing to provide health insurance to staff who work there. If in fact Steubenville has cut off health insurance to students because “The Obama Administration has mandated that all health insurance plans must cover ‘women’s health services’ including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing medications as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA),” why are they still providing it to staff who, via the same mandate, are required to have access to the same services?

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      Teej— excellent question. That was on Lifesitenews.com following a post I put up here http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=30064 back in the day. The answer is, in a word, no. The Question of student health insurance is a different question from that of employee health insurance. The former was dropped for a number of reasons, primarily cost to the students. The latter has not yet faced the cataclysmic point of decision based on the HHS mandate. But if that decision is ultimately forced upon the University the president and entire leadership have made it clear that the University will not comply with the mandate. So no, Franciscan University has not, and will not, sell out. You can find more info here: http://www.franciscan.edu/ReligiousLiberty/StudentHealthInsurance/

  • Wild Goose

    I hope that soon there will be a national or even international conference of LGBTs in Steubenville, because Steubenville is a place we can feel at home. And maybe the university can even make a few bucks by renting out dorm rooms! Win-win!

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      Complete non sequitur, Wild Goose.

      • 2 Happy

        Oh, it will follow. And we will raise the rainbow flag in Stebenville thanks to your article.

        • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

          Wow, 2 Happy— you and Wild Goose really don’t get it.

        • ccmnxc

          Wow Wild Goose and 2 Happy, way to capitalize on another person’s pain. You can’t force Catholicism to accept you, so you may as well spit in its face.
          Conquer and Destroy, am I right?

          (If this post is out of line with the rules, I give my apologies. Feel free to remove.)

          • tralala

            I accept you for what you are. I am not interested in spitting in your face. Nor am I interersted in conquering you. Why can’t you accept me for what I am? It seems to me that you are the one being destructive. Please learn to love and practice tolerance.

          • Teep

            Gee, last time I checked, real love does include tolerance. Unfortunately what you seem to be demanding is approval and affirmation. But tolerance is not the same thing as approval or affirmation. I love my parents, my wife, my sisters-in-law and my friends, but I don’t approve of everything they do nor would it be loving of me to give them affirmation without affirming something that really deserves it. I guess that makes me an intolerant jerk in your eyes. but hey, words are just words. We can use them any way we want, right?

          • ccmnxc

            You weren’t the one saying that an LGBT conference should be held in Steubenville to spite Franciscan University. I do not hate you, and I have no intention of disrespecting you. I don’t believe acting upon homosexuality to be correct, but I’m guessing I’m right to assume you don’t think some of my beliefs and my actions upon them are correct either. I try my very hardest to love and be tolerant, but for me, tolerant isn’t the same as accepting. My beliefs make me who I am as much as your beliefs and sexual identity makes you who you are.

  • Matthew

    My grandfather grew up in Steubenville and had very negative experiences with the Catholic schools there. He would certainly want the Steubenville logo excised. I understand that the townspeople feel the way they do. The city is not the university.

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      I’m confident that your grandfather’s experience has nothing to do with the Catholic schools as they have existed during the period of time in question in this post.

    • Tom

      And yet the city is not the city without the University… which is why the University was originally included in the graphic.

    • Art

      And yet it is not the townspeople of Steubenville who wanted the logo changed; it was an organization based in Wisconsin.

    • Silly Me

      It’s not nice that your grandfather had “very negative experiences with the Catholic schools” here. But honestly, what in blazes does that have to do with the topic at hand? So, he would “want the Steubenville logo excised?” Do you mean the whole, entire logo? Or just the cross/chapel part of it? And how do you know this? And even if you’re right, again, how is it relevant? “The city is not the university.” Boy, you can say that again. I’ve lived here for about twenty years. The city is stinking, smelly, dull, and provincial. The university is the source of any culture we have here AT ALL. Without the university, the place would be even worse than it is. So yeah, the city is not the university, as you put it, but more importantly, the university is not the city. Thank God for that.

    • Cindy

      So because your grandfather has “his” issues with the Catholic schools in Steubenville, you assume that the townspeople feel the same? Freedom from religion Foundation are mostly outsiders who meddle in any semblance that has to do with Christianity period. They are not even true atheists, they are an anti-christian religion themselves. An atheists who doesn’t believe in an religion whouldn’t care one way or another, but these people are against christianity. Take a look @ Michael Newdow in California courts, he claimed to be an athiest and wanted “under God” taken out of our Pledge of allegiance. What a waste. These people have personal issues with God and make that vendetta a religion in itself.

    • Curious Blue

      Let me explore if I understand this correctly. All the folks who are employed by Franciscan University will continue to get and benefit from health care insurance but the students, based on the administration’s decision, will not get health care. And the students are not getting the short end of the stick?

      • ccmnxc

        @Curious blue: This question/statement has already been answered in a post below.

  • Cephas

    The bridge has a distinctively Freemason design. I wonder if that has anything to do with the exclusion of the chapel…

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      I always saw the Divine Mercy image in it myself. Or Gumby.

      • Silly Me

        It struck me as being very similar to a protractor.

  • debval

    I’m currently attending the Biblical Studies Conference. I’m thinking next year I will stay at a hotel outside the city so they don’t get my tax money.



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