Steubenville, Ohio City Logo No Longer Includes a Christian Cross

While we’re talking about city logos with churches in them, here’s a success story:

This used to be the logo for Steubenville, Ohio:

After the Freedom From Religion Foundation said the cross was a no-no (PDF), the city responded by reverting back to their old logo until they get a new replacement:

“We’re pleased with the expeditious response,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

“It’s so clear why a city cannot and should not send a message that it is has a Christian orientation, thereby making Christian residents favored insiders, and nonChristians, including nonbelievers, outsiders. Government cannot pick sides on religion. All citizens — whether Christian, Jewish, atheist or agnostic, Muslim, etc. — must be welcomed as full participants, and the only way to do that is to keep religion out of government.”

It’s that simple. This isn’t too petty to fight. Especially when we’ve heard pro-Christian government officials make the argument in other instances that “no one ever complained about it before, so why should we change it?”

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Gordon Duffy

    It had a cross off to the side, but a huge A front and centre. 

  • Joe Rockhead

    Please show me where the Constitution forbids the state establishment of letters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/abramjlarson Abram Larson

    Why revert back to the old logo. Just nix the cross. It could be done in about 30 seconds since it’s just sticking up there by istelf. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/abramjlarson Abram Larson

    Steupidville.

    Sorry, I just thought of that and had to share my sophomoric attempt at humor. It made me laugh and that’s all that matters.

  • monyNH

     It looks like the Zakim Bridge at sunrise. There also appears to be a Minuteman and what looks like the Hancock Building…wait a second! They stole Boston’s skyline!

  • http://www.facebook.com/malcolm.trevena Malcolm Trevena

    As far as aesthetics go, the old logo looks so much better.

    Let’s hope version looks good and is inclusive of everyone.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    The more we raise awareness, the easier it gets.

  • Ida

    Not a cross, or rather not only a cross – it’s a silhouette of Christ the King Chapel, pretty much the only distinctive building on the Franciscan University campus…and Franciscan University, like it or not, is a major part of Steubenville, as an employer and as an institution bringing business to the area. Being a college town has helped Steubenville survive the economic collapse in the area; Franciscan University is the college in question; that is the building that distinguishes it.

  • Ida

    The suspension bridge into town, and good ol’ Baron von Steuben of local Revolutionary War fame.

  • Aimeejoe3

    I grew up in the Ohio Valley, Steubenville is very near.  I would say that this is a good move for them but not too much of a surprise.  The area has a significant immigrant population consisting of many religions.  

  • amycas

    I think the logo would look nice the way it is if they just erased the cross. It’s the only thing that is standing on it’s own outside the (what is that, a bridge or something?).

  • rlrose328

    I was just thinking how the old logo looks like a 2nd grader drew it but the newer, now-banned logo looks slick and professional.  I agree with someone upstream… just remove the cross and you’re good to go.  But they have to be dramatic and make a big deal of getting a NEW one because of the mean, evil atheists.

  • JohnK

    Doesn’t matter if it’s a city landmark, atheists want it scrubbed from society. There is no sensitivity for our 1st amendment right for free expression of religion, it’s about whiping it out because they don’t like it, plain and simple. 
    The Chinese leaders did a similar thing with religious statues because they felt that atheism was better than faith, and I sincerely believe from years of reading comments here that atheists would gladly do the same thing if they could.

  • Kodie

    No Citgo! 

  • JohnK

    The cross is on the real building. It’s a modern building just like the one in the logo. You guys are too much!

  • JohnK

    Easier to change architectural landmarks to suit your tastes? Erasing a feature from a building is pretty much a form of censorship.

  • JohnK

    Not mean or evil, just annoying – like those kids who used to volunteer to be hall monitors or couldn’t wait to tell the teacher when someone broke the rules.

  • Kodie

    Re-branding and logo creating costs money, especially now. Many older seals, such as Boston, actually, and my hometown in suburban NY, have old seals like the one they reverted to, in essence. Someone drew that a long time ago and you don’t have to pay some slick agency to rebrand, which is obviously something Steubenville, OH and Wyoming, MI had done in recent years (I think the MI one looks like 1960s-80s?). I like the newer logo here, except for the cross. Of course they’re going to spend money to make a whole new one…. and not that cities have to keep their old logos if they are awful – I think this weird fortress thing is terrible. A lot of cities rebrand, it’s a thing now. Here are some samples of “destination” (re-)branding from a site I like to look at:

    http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/destinations/

  • Kodie

    It’s not like the breakage of those rules amounts to usurping everyone else’s freedom… Why do you hate America?

  • Joe Zamecki

    Excellent. Let’s get to some others! There are lots of these things all over the USA.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I was going to ignore your obvious strawman, but since you’ve put up at least three of them, I’m wondering if you’ve completely missed what we’re talking about.

    You do realize we’re not talking about changing the actual building?  Or do you really think it’s impossible to represent the entire population without using a religious symbol that only applies to some of them?

  • JohnK

    In God We Trust, kodie.

  • JohnK

    I don’t think either of us missed anything at all, i think it’s just two completely different ways of looking at life and freedom. If the cross were randomly placed i would sort of agree with you, but since it’s part of a building that’s a landmark in the city it’s silly to tell them to remove it.

    I do know that for the time being nobody is talking about removing the actual cross. That will most likely be the next generation of atheists.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I do think that leaving the logo intact except removing the cross is not the answer.  That would be an airbrushing of reality.  I just have to think there must be some other landmark they could use.

    You can speculate all you want about the next generation of atheists.  I personally try not to assume that the next generation of Christians will want to put atheists in a concentration camp.  Fiction is fun, but it should never be substituted for reality.

  • Ida

    Hush. They might realize that “the building” is a church, and then the logo is *really* in trouble! :-D No – I’m amazed at how quickly the city caved – going from honoring a major employer and community presence, to effectively snubbing it. Let’s see what new logo they come up with, certainly hope it makes a place for Franciscan.

  • Randomfactor

    Nobody’s saying the cross has to be removed from a private institution.  Just from the logo of the public one. 

    If you equate destruction of landmarks with a graphic redesign of stationery–well, your argument isn’t all that good, now is it?

  • Randomfactor

    In that case, it’s a lower-case t, not a cross.

  • Scwmsm12

    Speaking of rebranding, I lived for a mercifully short time south of 

    Hamilton, Ohio just north of Cincinnati.  Hamilton had been a prosperous small city until the outerbelt was built around Cincy in the late ’50′s.  Hamilton got cut off from the main transportation hub around Cincy and Hamilton started to decline.  When I was there in the early ’90′s, downtown Hamilton was looking pretty rundown and shabby as were the people I saw on the streets.  In order to boost interest in Hamilton, the city council officially changed the name from Hamilton, Ohio to Hamilton!, Ohio.   Adding the exclamation point didn’t help.  It would be pathetic if it wasn’t so laughable. 

  • Ida

    Yes; various groups of Eastern Orthodox and Protestant.

  • Scwmsm12

    Hey, watch it!  Steubenville is birthplace of both Dean Martin and Jimmy the Greek.  

  • Kodie

    I’m not impressed. Jimmy the Greek the racist? It doesn’t make a town. Maybe the other people who live there aren’t that bad – they’re changing their logo just because they were asked nicely.

  • Ida

    Too late. They’ve already excluded the university symbolized by that chapel and cross.

  • Ida

    Not exactly nicely. A city that is struggling (or drowning) economically was threatened with a lawsuit. They caved in rather than fight, and in the process insulted one of the few economically viable institutions in the city and its alumni. But some people who don’t live in the area, have no ties to the area, and have nothing to gain or lose by what happens in the area, can high-five each other over their “victory”.

  • Kodie

    Do you love your freedom?

    But some people who don’t live in the area, have no ties to the area,
    and have nothing to gain or lose by what happens in the area, can
    high-five each other over their “victory”.

    You’re welcome.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    By that argument, any symbol that isn’t included is excluding someone.  Where were the Jews and Muslims and Hindus?

    How about including things that don’t exclude?  You see, libraries, city hall, public parks, other public facilities don’t exclude anyone.    Religious symbols specifically exclude anyone not of that religion.

    So if you really want that cross, you’d also have to include a bunch of other religious symbols, and it still wouldn’t cover everyone.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    So instead of give you a ticket, the cop gives you a warning.  And then you have to slow down.  Sucks, doesn’t it.

    Edit: ok, bad analogy, the FFRF isn’t the cops. A private citizen doesn’t like the fact that you’re illegally parked, and asks that you move your car so she doesn’t have to call the cops. There.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    “You”. Not “We”.

  • Ida

    Yes. Along with my alma mater and the city in which I lived for four years. The two are intertwined the way any college and its town are, even more so on account of what happened to the local economy when the steel industry collapsed. (Think “Detroit in miniature”. Or go listen to the song ‘Allentown’.) Franciscan University is one of the few remaining anchors in the city, and the city wanted to acknowledge that by including the school’s own logo in theirs. That’s it. That they can’t do so without threat of a lawsuit they really don’t need to waste money on fighting is a violation of freedom.

  • Kodie

    The logo from my alma mater is a flame of knowledge, and the profile of the campus recognizable landmark would look like a school building with a clock tower. I’m sorry that the main thing happening in your town is Christian privilege, because basically, that’s what your saying your school is about and Steubenville is about. That is sad for Steubenville, in this economy, to have your main thing taken off the logo. Did you learn anything while you were there?

  • Ida

    Still a bad analogy. If you’re in Ohio you don’t go calling the cops in Michigan, they have no jurisdiction.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    If you care that much about it, then make your violation federal.  Then we can call the FBI or DEA or WTF.

    A  probable violation of the Constitution was pointed out.  They could either comply or contest.

    Complying with the US Constitution isn’t bad- it’s Patriotic.

  • Ida

    I’m sorry as well that the city is in the shape it is. It shouldn’t be so dependent on a single private educational institution, it should be standing on its own two feet. But the fact is it doesn’t and it can’t. Nobody set out to create that situation and nobody benefits from it, it simply is. Franciscan is a large part of what keeps the town going – by employing locals, by admitting locals at reduced tuition rates, by putting money into the economy, by its mutually beneficial relationships with the schools and hospital in town. That is what the city wanted to acknowledge.

  • Ida

    The below article on the logo change, in the Steubenville paper, is a great look at what I mean about the economy in town – they can’t even figure out how to fund the police department, they certainly don’t have money to fight some lawsuit from an oût-of-state organization which doesn’t otherwise give a damn about the city.

    http://www.hsconnect.com/page/content.detail/id/576158/Officials-OK-change-of-logo.html?nav=5010

  • http://www.facebook.com/garweft Matt Walker

    Release your hatred. It would be funny, how much the logo a small Ohio city bothers you, if it wasn’t so sad. The other figures on the logo include a man with a gun, and a fort used for protection from Native Americans (while taking their land and killing them). I’m sure these are offensive to someone as well. 

    The Franciscan University of Steubenville is a large, and very welcome, part of my hometown. They provide a large economic boost to an other wise flailing economy. A city once driven by the Steel industry, now polluted with drugs, gangs, and joblessness. The college provides a ray of hope for the future of our area. They are constantly reinvesting in the area and expanding, cleaning up old eye sores and replacing them with green areas and recreation areas open to the public.

    Now they get to feel like they are being thrown aside by city leaders, who would rather give in to the requests of out of state extremists, than risk tax payer money in a frivolous suit. 

    As an agnostic I must say….. Your a big old turd in the punchbowl, aren’t you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/garweft Matt Walker

    It’s on your money you carry in your pocket.

  • http://www.facebook.com/garweft Matt Walker

    It’s not in the constitution. Try actually learning about what you are talking about first.

  • http://www.facebook.com/garweft Matt Walker

    Atheism is a religion…. Go away!

  • Randomfactor

    Oh!  An argument I haven’t heard before…

    …20,000 times.  And the money in MY wallet doesn’t have that on it.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Not on the paper money. A use a Sharpie to fix that problem.

    In any case, carrying currency means I have faith in its purchasing power, not that I believe everything printed or embossed on it. As an intelligent adult, I obviously don’t trust in any gods.

  • Lewis Scaife

    no wonder they wanted a new logo.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I didn’t say “It’s in the constitution”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

    The thing is that you do not have a constitutional right to be spared offense at depictions of soldiers. You do have the constitutional right to be spared offense at the government endorsing a certain religion over others.

    This is kind of a gray-area case. If this is what a compacted vision of the skyline of Steubenville looks like, with the cross drawn to scale, I would say probably constitutional. If they picked out certain buildings then their defense is a bit shakier: Why choose a church over a mosque? This would show favoritism for Christianity.

  • Ida

    :-D After the university replaced its (much beloved) “Welcome to Camp”-style sign, situated right where you entered town, clearly something had to be done.

  • Ida

    Obviously the university wasn’t “excluded” from the original logo. Neither are Muslims, etc, excluded from the second logo. The university, however, is; by fact of having been included and now specifically removed. Again – the chapel and cross were to symbolize the university. Not to endorse a religion. There is a difference.

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    Yes, it’s very annoying when someone calls you on your privilege, isn’t it?

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    Yes? So? Does that magically make me Christian?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Matt, are you aware of the history of “In God We Trust” on U.S. money? Many people think it has something to do with the Founding Fathers. No, actually it’s from a very shameful period in our more recent history. There were some efforts to get it on U.S. money during the Civil War, to make the claim that “God is on our side,” but it didn’t last. Later, during the Red Scare of the 1950′s when everybody was scared of the ruthless demagogue Joe McCarthy, cowardly politicians were scrambling to show how “godly” they were so they wouldn’t be accused of being “commies.” Instead of standing up to McCarthy’s tyranny of fear mongering and paranoia that ruined thousands of innocent lives, they decided to wipe their asses with the First Amendment and they adopted “In God We Trust” as the second national motto, essentially supplanting the older and much better one, “E Pluribus Unum,” which basically means “from many came one.” Unfortunately, we are now an even more deeply divided nation, and religious intrusions into government is one powerful reason for that disunity.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Please point out where atheists got together and made the A the collective sign of our non-religion. 

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yup. Get all offended and paint yourself a victim because somepony else’s freedom is now being respected at the cost of your privilege. It’s so HORRIBLE! 

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yup. We’re annoying because we want our rights respected. Next time some Christians start crying about the actions of some other religion, are you gonna call them annoying too?

    No, you won’t. You’ll be crying about how persecuted they are. 

  • Baby_Raptor

    So? If the US started printing “In The Flying Spaghetti Monster We Trust” on our money, would you automatically convert? 

  • Baby_Raptor

    How is that censorship? How is that, in any way, shape or form, the government forcing the people to change their message, not broadcast it, ETC? 

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yup. Play the victim more. Jump to more crazy conclusions. Keep feeding the paranoia. Maybe one day we’ll actually come after you and you’ll finally be justified.

  • Baby_Raptor

    If they feel thrown aside because somepony called them on their privilege and they had to find something other than a church to represent themselves, then they need to grow up. Nobody has demanded that the city get rid of the school, or take the school off the logo. Just that they find a non-religious way to represent it. 

    As to the rest of your strawman, please grow up. There is no hatred involved. People just want the law followed. 

  • Ida

    No. Just disgusted that any of you think you’ve accomplished something here – that of all the many and severe problems to notice and address in the city of Steubenville, THIS was the one to address; THIS was what demanded immediate attention and will improve the lives of people there. And now having declared your petty victory,you atheists will move on and forget all about the town again – and the Catholic university will go on being integral to the community, logo or no logo. Sounds about right to me, does it toyou? Is that the picture you wat to draw for all to see?

  • pureone

    I can’t find it on my 1935 series B. Using the usual “argument from tradition” fallacy christians use to make sure their special religion stays where it shouldn’t—–It’s not been on money longer than it’s been on money, therefore it needs to be removed. I think it should be removed for constitutional reasons.

  • anon101

    I wander what the bridge on the logo endorsed. Building bridges?
    Crossing Bridges? Worshiping bridges? The point is that the
    church/cross in the logo does not endorse religion. If you would
    follow through with that logic putting up pictures of churches on the
    tourist information pages on the internet would be endorsing religion
    either. Actually any mention of even existence of religion would mean
    endorsing it. People you are crazy. You have gone down the deep end
    and you need to start realizing it.

  • Kodie

    The slight difference you seem to be oblivious to is the government endorsement of a particular religion is in violation, while the existence of a religion or freedom of worship (or not worship) is inherent in the government having nothing to say about it one way or the other. You are mistaking this effort for a ban on religion, which ignorance there is no excuse for, as there is plenty to read about and gain comprehension. A bridge is not a religious symbol. A chapel is. Nice pretend to be an atheist making foolish obvious straw man argument, though.

  • vexorian

    If it was a small thing, no one would bother about it.

    Yey we have 68 comments right now…

     

  • JohnK

    Wrong, actually. If you are referring to US money, “In God We Trust” first appeared on a 2 cent coin in 1864 because of religious centiment in the country. It went away for a while, but has been in use continously since 1938.

  • Chriszen

    No, it shouldn’t be removed. Simple as that.

  • Kodie

    Are you scared god’s going to crash our economy if we take his name off the money in a fit of jealousy and wrath? You didn’t give a reason, so I’m just guessing. 

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    So you’re ok with a factual error on our money?  I think it’s kind of embarrassing.  As if the 1$ had “Jorge Washington” and the 5$ had “Babraham Lincoln”

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EODM45N2R75PI57HLZQIF5C3XA Mark

    I like the new logo way better than the old one.  Couldn’t they just remove the cross ??

  • John Thomas

    well said! Why are we allowing these clowns to get a good footing. As atheists thy are not going where I am going when we die. They tried something like this in Memphis, and we kicked them out.

  • http://torhershman.blogspot.com/ tor_hershman

    HOLEY CRAP!!!  I live just south of Steubenville, am a well-known Atheist, sooooo I’ll be running through town in a zig-zag manner for awhile.
    YIKES!  The from hast change but I bet the substance shall remain unaltered.
    Anyone want to view me wee YouTube films?
    http://www.youtube.com/user/TOR1Hershman

    Oh yeah, George Carlin must be spinning in his grave for during the recent Jamboree In The Hills Lynard Skynryd said “FUCK” on WTOV’s live broadcast.
    SOGS,
    Tor Hershman

  • nikon

    Now here’s an idea. If you don’t like Steubenville’s Logo and you live in Steubenville, then as a voter you have the right to petition to change it. If you don’t like Steubenville’s Logo and you do not live in Steubenville, go fuck yourself.

  • Reedj3

    You have become what you claim to dislike…intolerant.

  • Reedj3

    Are you truly offended that you have to look at a cross that stands atop a building?  It’s the same as being offended by the color of another’s skin.  Grow up and let’s just all be more tolerant of each other.

  • Reedj3

    It’s not supposed to represent the entire population of the city.  It represents an institution that is an integral part of the community  academically, economically, culturally, etc. 

  • Reedj3

    The Jews, Muslims, and Hindus have no institution in Steubenville.  Nor are there any other major colleges or universities in Steubenville.  If there were, they would be on the logo as well.       

  • Reedj3

    “Keep religion out” is the new “white’s only.”  You have become what you hate.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    It’s actually “government shall make no religious preference” which would be the equivalent of “government shall make no racial preference”.

    Saying “Whites only” would be like saying “Christianity only”.  So, but having symbols of a particular religion on your logo, you are in essence saying “Christians only” (no Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists…).

    And I realize the logo isn’t forbidding anyone else from entering the city. But perhaps a better analogy would be all marketing by the city to use ONLY white models.  Except that a logo is a greater official representation of a city than the marketing.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RBFWQLMSIGMT2IJT3OJUOPE4DQ juju

    anybody can see why  folks are drying out    i hope the sun in stubbyville gets even hotter 

  • leigh

    A law firm offering to defend the christian cross referred to non-christians as a fringe group.
    At about 25% of the population, non-christians are hardly a fringe group.   That perception alone — that non-christians somehow don’t count and are just a bunch of looneys –  should be sufficient to demonstrate that governments should not be in the business of supporting religion. 

    The City Council should be commended for revising its logo.  They made the right decision; I hope they stick to it.

  • http://twitter.com/emilyhasbooks Emily Dietle

    Un-Constitutional or not, it should be easily recognized that catering
    to one particular faith in the city logo would be a flawed move.
    Consider how many variations of Christianity there are, and how many
    other religions there are. Excluding them all by promoting another is
    unjust. Secular logos are neutral and inclusive to all citizens.


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