Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making a Religious Statement

I read with interest this article on Fox News about some LSU officials who air brushed out crosses some students had painted on their bodies as they cheered for the Tiger's football team.

Now, in some respects, this might not be that big of a story.  The school spokesman said only one student complained.  The article, however, said the student group was upset.  Who to believe?  Eh, in this age of lying without consequences---who knows.

What I do know is the following statement, and it is toward it that I wish to turn my attention:

"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.

I wonder if they actually realize the hypocrisy of their statement?  For in air brushing out the crosses and altering the appearance of the students, they removed the students' expressions of their faith. 

I am reminded of Mary Poplin's lecture reprinted in A Place for Truth when she quoted Todd Lake's chapter in the book Finding God at Harvard:

I remember Mother Teresa's speech on the steps of Memorial Church at the Class Day exercise in 1982, where she talked of Jesus incessantly--I mean incessantly--and even quoted that verse, John 3:16 (already well known to most of us, thanks to signs in the end-zone bleachers).  But in a triumph of brilliant editing, Harvard Magazine's account managed to report almost the entire Mother Teresa speech without once hinting that she might have even mentioned Jesus.  We all sensed he could be trouble, and we wanted to make sure he never again became a live issue.

Do you see the relationship?  Do you see that editing out someone's religious beliefs is essentially making a religious statement?  Do you see how it demeans the character of that person and lessens that person's identity? 

The folks at LSU probably had the best of intentions. They didn't want to offend anyone, but their actions did exactly that!  They covered up individuals' free expression of their faith.  They tried to make their magazine look completely secular, and in doing so, they removed religion.  By removing religion, they made a religious statement.  I'm personally glad they got caught.

No comments: