(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.

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46 thoughts on “(City of) Steubenville Yields to Militant Secularists

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  2. Kelly H. says:

    Please go vote in the Herald’s online poll and let them know what you think of the change. The FFRF is linking to the poll and asking people to vote ‘yes’ – they do approve of the change. Do you part and make the reasonable voice heard!

    http://www.hsconnect.com/page/polls.list/

    1. Gene says:

      And answer No because we do not approve of the change (removal of the Franciscan University logo including the cross)

  3. Mike Crognale says:

    One must remember that those LGBT activists are nothing more than Satan’s “useful idiots”. The Devil works non-stop to destroy Christianity wherever and whenever he can. This is just one more battle ground in the eternal war. Once Christ comes back we can rejoice in Him for the strife will be over and these idiots will be cast into the eternal flames prepared for them.

  4. Wow says:

    The fact that THIS (a LOGO change) has you all worked up is hilarious. Is God, and your faith in him, not more powerful than a logo? THIS shakes your faith?

    1. Anthony says:

      I dare say no one’s faith is shaken by this move. The point of the post was to point to yet another example that Christianity is under seige. Secularists are not being hurt by the image of a cross but they seek to wipe it out anyway. In my opinion, if a non-believer looking for a place to start a life were to see the above logo and turn away from the city because of it he/she needs to get a life.

      1. Wow says:

        “Christianity under siege.” Uh huh.

    2. Amanda says:

      Wow, are you saying that unless it is big or something that will shake our faith, we shouldn’t discuss it? Because for my part, I think this is an interesting story, doesn’t shake my faith, but I like to be informed about many things. How is this a bad thing? Peace and Joy! Amanda

    3. ccmnxc says:

      I’d say it shakes my faith in humanity a bit. Apparently, these days, it is illegal to display anything religious in the public world. Are they so threatened by a cross that they can’t bear to see one. Steubenville will always hold a place in my heart, and therefore, it hurts to see something like this happen.

      1. Wow says:

        You guys are just proving my point. Relax. Tell me how many CITY LOGOS you can remember? This is a non-story with no victims, made to whip up fear and resentment. Yet another CV post pandering to the easily-frightened.

        1. ccmnxc says:

          “Tell me how many CITY LOGOS you can remember?”
          The fact that it is a city logo isn’t important. It is that a big part of the city of Steubenville (Franciscan University) can’t be recognized as a religious university because some people can’t bear to see a cross outside of a church. It’s the fact that people have such resentment for Christianity that they have to purge any public image and institution of anything remotely religious. Before you ask, if it was the symbol of a different religion, I’d have no problem with it because it is an important part of the city.

          “This is a non-story with no victims, made to whip up fear and resentment.”
          I am at a loss of how to properly reply to this. It’s easy for the winners to tell the losers, “Hey, there’s nothing wrong. Get over it.” I’m not sure who this statement was made to since obviously everyone who posted to your original comment is a victim. Maybe you just like lying to yourself to keep things okay. I don’t know.

          1. Wow says:

            Please explain how you were victimized by this changing of a logo design. How exactly has your life been in any way negatively affected? How are you losing any sleep over this? This hardly qualifies for inconvenience, much less alone an insult, let alone an attack. But please, keep acting offended and playing the victim. It’s hilarious.

          2. Tom Crowe says:

            Wow— Please explain how the inclusion of the cross, based on the justification I provide in the post, inconveniences you or anyone else to that point that a group from another state has the standing to intimidate our elected officials with a lawsuit?

          3. Wow says:

            I never, ever said it DID inconvenience me. I couldn’t care less; I just find your overreaction funny. This is a silly post made to whip up right wing fear and resentment, which is par for the course on this site. Just to be devil’s advocate, how would you feel if, say, the city of Dearborn, MI, had in its logo the outline of a mosque with a minaret displayed in silhouette? Would you still freak out if it were removed at the request of a humanist group?

          4. ccmnxc says:

            “This hardly qualifies for inconvenience (to you), much less alone an insult (to you), let alone an attack(on you).” I fixed that for ya.
            It is an incoveniece for Franciscan university to have to go through this. It is an insult to Franciscan Universiity that they, as an important part of the city, can’t be recognized for their Christian heritage. It is an attack on any Christian symbol in the pubic domain that has dnoe nothing to provoke or hurt. “This is a silly post made to whip up right wing fear and resentment” You’re telling me about fear and resentment. How about fear and resentment of a symbol that has done nothing to hurt. The FFRF has stirred of fear and coerced Steubenville to remove the cross from the city logo. I find your hypocrisy rather sad. “Just to be devil’s advocate, how would you feel if, say, the city of Dearborn, MI, had in its logo the outline of a mosque with a minaret displayed in silhouette? Would you still freak out if it were removed at the request of a humanist group?” Yeah, I would still freak out, because it is obviously important to the city and it is still an attack on religion. I don’t fear and hate other religions like some atheists (FFRF)seem to do.

          5. Wow says:

            How is this an inconvenience (to anyone), an insult (to anyone) or an attack (on anyone)? If Franciscan University is so shaken their edifice has been removed from a CITY LOGO of all things, I’d posit FU has bigger problems than a bruised ego. And, no, you wouldn’t freak out like this if a minaret was removed from a logo. You and Fox News would cheer. Fact is, if your faith is based on whether or not you see the likeness of a church structure in a picture, you need to reevaluate your priorities, pal. Jeez you guys are too much fun. LOL.

          6. ccmnxc says:

            “How is this an inconvenience (to anyone), an insult (to anyone) or an attack (on anyone)?” My response (from last post): “It is an incoveniece for Franciscan university to have to go through this. It is an insult to Franciscan Universiity that they, as an important part of the city, can’t be recognized for their Christian heritage. It is an attack on any Christian symbol in the pubic domain that has done nothing to provoke or hurt.” You reorganized you statement about nobody being hurt/insulted into a question, therefore, my response is the same. “If Franciscan University is so shaken their edifice has been removed from a CITY LOGO of all things, I’d posit FU has bigger problems than a bruised ego.” As I already stated, it isn’t being removed from the city logo so much as the reason they were removed. If it was deemed that Franciscan University no longer contributed to the city, it would be fair, but that isn’t the reason. If you don’t believe me, I can’t make you. However, if that is the case, please say so instead of posting the same statements and questions, just with different wording. “And, no, you wouldn’t freak out like this if a minaret was removed from a logo. You and Fox News would cheer. Fact is, if your faith is based on whether or not you see the likeness of a church structure in a picture, you need to reevaluate your priorities, pal.” Again, I am left unable to properly respond. If you have to resort to calling me a liar and hypocrite, even though there is evidence of neither, I think the argument is beyond saving, though I can safely say you have convinced no one but yourself.

        2. Cindy says:

          Wow…If you think this is a non-story why do bother to post…is it you have no real reply to our posts, Oh that’s right you have a non reply to a non story

  5. David L Alexander says:

    I can understand a group of “militant secularists” taking exception to the image of the cross in the logo. I know this area rather well, even though I never attended the university. What I do not understand is how “militant secularists” could hold such sway over the city as to make them cave in so easily. I rather doubt that such pressure was local, and the prospect of a legal battle could easily be thwarted, given the frivolous nature of the complaint, and the defense the city could provide.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t over.

  6. Joseph A. says:

    Tom, it is my experience with the locals – i.e., the poor, disadvantaged black community – of Steubenville that the University has really done nothing for the city. It may have the highest employment rate (or second highest…whatever), but the giving to the community seems to be scarce. The poor in Steubenville definitely don’t feel as if the University gives, but rather receives and is just in the City, but not really a part of the community.

    Also, just as an aside, Steubenville was known well before the University, which I’m sure Dr. Holmes would be willing to attest to :P

    1. Tom Crowe says:

      Thanks for your input, Joe. Contrarian and Debby Downer as ever. I’m curious: in your experience, what do those whom u mention think the University ought to give that she isn’t giving AND is the sort of thing a university could be expected to give to the community? And I duly note that Steubenville was known prior to the University rising to prominence: Pittsburgh priests, back in the day, knew EXACTLY what the penitent meant when he said “I went to Steubenville.” This city is better because of the University, plain and simple; and any attempt to deny that is sour grapes.

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