Christian Football Fans at LSU Have Their Crosses Photoshopped Out of Picture

This is the Louisiana State University Painted Posse:

This is the Painted Posse as they appeared in a campuswide email sent out by LSU:

See any differences?

The kids in the picture certainly noticed. Because the Painted Posse is a Christian group and LSU photoshopped out the crosses on their chests.

“I was a bit surprised, because our pictures get used so frequently, and the cross had never been edited before,” said Posse member Cameron Cooke in an interview with Campus Reform.

“The cross painting is important to me because it represents who I am as a Christ follower,” Cooke added, “and it reminds me who I need to act like in Death Valley.”

The school’s excuse is that they were trying not to offend anybody and didn’t want to give the appearance of endorsing Christianity.

A few points:

  • No one is offended by the presence of Christians at your school. They’re a part of the community as much as everybody else.
  • To LSU officials: Thanks for trying to do the right thing… even though you totally screwed up. Seriously. I appreciate it.
  • If you didn’t want to give the appearance of endorsing Christianity, then you should have used a different picture! You’re at LSU! There’s no shortage of fanatical students with school spirit! I went to a college where you rarely ever saw people wearing hoodies with our school’s name on it much less painting their chests — LSU doesn’t have that problem! Just point the camera a few feet to the right.

The school seems to be sympathetic to the reaction and vows not to let it happen again:

The school, in a statement, indicated that it was not trying to censor any views, but rather to avoid the appearance of endorsing one. “We don’t want to imply we are making any religious or political statements, so we air-brushed it out,” the school said in a statement to Fox News. “Only one of the students, who didn’t appreciate it, actually contacted us about it. So next time, we’ll just choose a different photo.

That’s… a rational response to a small crisis, I guess.

So stand by for a right-wing freakout at how Christianity is under attack from the left.

(Thanks to @dougphilips for the link)

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.

  • TOKYO boy

    “So stand by for a right-wing freakout at how Christianity is under attack from the left.”

    I can definitely see atheist blogs freaking out if some sort of atheism symbol or logo was edited out.  And rightfully so.

    The right will probably blow this out of proportion, but I don’t think we would have the most calm reaction either.  

  • Rjblaskiewicz

    First they came for the little tiny cross on my man-boob…

  • NeedingMoreFacts

    No one is offended by the presence of Christians at your school. They’re a part of the community as much as everybody else.

  • Jessica

    I actually think that, despite the error in judgement, everyone sort of had the correct response to this.  
    The school tried to do the right thing, in a bit of a misguided way.  The students had an appropriate “Not cool, dude” reaction.  The school was kind of like “I guess you’re right.  My bad.”Civil conversation!  I would be so pleased if this situation ended with that, especially because it could be an interesting talking point in terms of the line between endorsing a belief or not. Just hope Fox News doesn’t get their hooks into this.

  • Wells Megan

    Not the same thing. Christians are by far the dominant group in America. Lots of people are trying to airbrush the very existence of atheists out of society. It would have different implications if an authority figure airbrushed out a minority identifier, because of the cultural context.

  • MargueriteF

    I think that Photoshopping out the crosses was wrong, and the later decision to use different, nonreligious pictures was right. Among other things, removing the crosses gives Christians a kick in the old persecution complex. A poster to the Posse FB page encouraged fans attending the next game to “wear a purple or black shirt and wear a large cross, a shirt with a cross on it or face paint a cross on your face. The media will be everywhere and my goal is to have a campus of crosses.” Whether this was intended as a response to this situation or not, I don’t know, but I would guess it was.

  • Willy Occam

    “Just hope Fox News doesn’t get their hooks into this.”

    Are you kidding?  They’re not going to let this episode pass quietly, civility at LSU be damned!  They’re going to milk this incident for every anti-secular talking point they can get, like the media parasites they are.

  • MargueriteF

    The Fox News site reported this days ago:

    Even days later, it’s the number 2 trending item in sports, so I think it’s reasonable to imagine the arch-conservatives are getting worked up about it. I have no idea if they’re talking about it on TV, of course, because I’d rather have icepicks in my eyeballs than watch that particular network.

  • sam

    In context, public displays of crosses are no more offensive to me than Nike swishes or McDonald’s arches.  Everyone get to peddle their logo & market their product.  They are the white noise of our free society.

    On the other hand, the cross is a symbol of public torture & execution that xians use to represent their soteriological claims.  No xian in 2,000 years has successfully demonstrated the logical connection between the torture & murder of a living being and the revocation of responsibility of another person’s unethical behavior.

    A person has a moral obligation to behave ethically toward other persons.  When one fails to meet that obligation, the torture and murder of a person has no capacity to absolve another of those failures.

    In that sense, the cross very much is morally and intellectually offensive.  While people are free to hold morally and intellectually offensive views and represent them symbolically, I’m not going to shed any tears if they are removed from society.

  • OCRazor

    Christianity is under attack!  LSU is trying to oppress religion!  God is being censored!  Obama supports education which is trying to remove God from our schools!

    Oh wait…wrong blog.  :P

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Because the Painted Posse is a Christian group

    Ah, but they’re not true Christians.

  • Allison

     So true. I think the school handled it poorly. So what if they have
    crosses? As an Atheist I believe that everyone in the United States has a
    freedom to choose whatever religion they want – as long as they’re not
    shoving it down my throat. Is painting a cross on their chest or wearing
    a cross necklace offensive to me? Absolutely not. Is screaming at me
    telling me I’m going to hell offensive? Yes. As a human being, if you
    can’t understand that diversity exists everywhere then you’re just ill
    prepared for life.

    I fully support those students because of their right to freedom of
    speech. Photoshopping out their crosses was poor judgement. If they
    didn’t want to look like they supported religion then another picture
    would have been more appropriate.

  • Foster

    I disagree. We should treat everyone as fairly as possible based on the existing rules, regardless of their majority or minority status.  If it’s wrong to do to an atheist, it’s also wrong to do to a Christian.  Trying to even the score by giving preferential treatment to minority groups in situations like this only perpetuates injustice and groupthink, harming our sense of individual liberty.

    “Lots of people are trying to airbrush the very existence of atheists out of society.”

    Isn’t that exactly the same thing that airbrushing crosses does? “Gosh, we sure love your school spirit, but we wish you hadn’t worn those nasty crosses that identify you as Christians.”  Sounds to me like your personal convictions about gods are biasing your judgment against an individual’s right to expression.

  • Artor

    *Facepalm* I’d like to think that University journalism students would have a better grasp of the 1st Amendment than this, but then I see stories like this and my faith in journalism sinks even lower.

  • Tim

    no no no.

    I thought we all understood equality. (face palm)

  • Revyloution

    I just wish they would have photoshopped out the mens nipples.  Mens nipples are just one more point of evidence supporting Evolooshun.

  • walkamungus

    ^^^^^ this!

  • walkamungus

    The establishment clause needs a little clarification down in Baton Rouge, methinks.

    Frankly, it’s a great picture.

  • Barb Schaarschmidt

     Except, unless I am reading it wrong, Wells isn’t actually endorsing the airbrushing of the crosses, but merely pointing out that if an atheist reacts strongly to this treatment, it is more understandable. Not that I necessarily agree, but it seems that the point is more like if you slap a giant man, or if you slap a little kid, the reactions are going to be different, even if the action they are reacting to is identical – because overall context matters.

  • Justin Miyundees

    In their defense, post that pic untouched and someone’ll burn an embassy in Yemen.  Oh religion, you bring so much joy!

  • Silo Mowbray

    Speaking as an atheist, not single fuck would be given by me if an atheist symbol was airbrushed out. To me it’s just a logo, a shorthand way of saying “I’m rational”, which in an ideal world would be the default state. Alas…

  • Michael Harrison

     The Reveille isn’t that bad. Some of the editorials appear to be written by people who are actually sane.

  • Meghan

    I follow fox news on facebook and they did report on it a few days ago. 

    And before anyone says anything, I follow fox news because I like to keep an eye on what “the other side” is saying. Plus since Fox News stopped letting people comment on their actual website, so reading the comments of facebook has become my daily dose of crazy. Seriously, I have never seen a more backwards, racist, and just downright stupid group of people in my life. No wonder they turned off comments on their actual website, they must have been embarrassed by the group of people representing them. 

    But  as far as this story went, it was what you would expect from Fox’s readers. Just a bunch of BS about how Christianity is under attack on all levels and so on.

  • Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    I do not see the issue.  The school apologized and used a different photo.  The students rights were not denied at all.  They can wear crosses all they want, but the school does not have to use a picture with the students with the crosses.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I used to visit Fox News just to read their comments. Maybe I will have to check out their facebook page to get my fix of crazy.

  • Michael Hartwell

    I imagine there would be a freakout of some kind if they were an atheist group and had a red A photoshopped out.

  • Thin-ice

    Sigh. This is what happens when you elect a muslim/Kenyan/socialist/communist/fascist/devil-worshipper/Anti-Christ/gay-lover as President. Crosses get photo-shopped out of photos. I could have warned you this was coming . . .

  • Larry Meredith

    If LSU used that picture un-photoshopped, would anyone here equate that to endorsement of Christianity? As long as their media also shines spotlights on other religious and non-religious groups, I would just see it as recognition that they have a diverse student body enthusiastic about all differing and opposing views. Those were just fans in the picture too, not cheerleaders or a school organized group.

  • Foster

     My comments do not necessitate that Wells Megan was advocating cross-air-brushing behavior, but that atheist reactions are not more understandable or more justified than Christian reactions to poor treatment.  Everyone, whether they be a giant or a child, has the right to sue someone for battery if they have warrant.  Your logic reminds me of people who claim that attractive female teachers who statutorily rape their students should get easier penalties.  No, they should get the same penalty as anyone else who does what is wrong.  Justice is and should be blind: blind to color, status, creed, group identity, and everything else that is irrelevant to protecting individual liberty.

  • Rational Libertarian

    Could we stop using the terms right and left in reference to Christianity and atheism. I’m right wing (economically at least) and an atheist, and there are plenty more like me.

  • Rational Libertarian

    You’re right, I don’t think you see the issue.

  • Silentbob

    Your argument boils down to saying that a poor man who has $100 stolen from him has no more reason to be upset than a rich man who has $100 stolen from him.

    It’s a stupid argument.

  • EmpirefallingSomeday

    The bigger issue isn’t little (almost not visible) crosses being photoshopped…. As someone trying to follow Jesus I’m more bothered by a group of so called “christians” painting themselves up like pagan freaks and worshipping a stupid game like american football…and tacking on little crosses like some good luck charm. I’m sure God is impressed as 99.9 % of their devotion goes to LSU football and a little paint gets left over for a cross on their nipple.  A pathetic christianity like that deserves to be ‘attacked’ and ridiculed.