Update 9/18: ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY Allows Crosses on Helmets

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Arkansas State University (ASU) announced on Constitution Day that it would allow memorial crosses on its team football helmets. The University’s decision came after it found itself scrambling under a legal blitz by Liberty Institute following the school’s initial ban on the crosses.

Siding with the University’s initial ban was the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an anti-religion group who routinely bullies government entities with erroneous but intimidating letters and threats. The FFRF sent a letter to the University complaining about the crosses.

Liberty Institute’s demand letter to ASU cited five such Supreme Court decisions that protect student speech or prohibit viewpoint discrimination. Banning private student speech because of its religious nature falls squarely within the kind of viewpoint discrimination deemed unlawful by the Court.

from Liberty Institute,

This week, Liberty Institute sent a demand letter on behalf of our client, a football player at Arkansas State University, calling for University officials to immediately cease its discriminatory censorship of our client’s lawful private religious speech.

Our letter asks that ASU permit him and all fellow football team members who so desire to display memorial helmet stickers—in the shape of crosses—that they designed as a way to honor a teammate and their team’s equipment manager who both died during the off-season.

The University unlawfully banned the student memorial helmet stickers last week.


Arkansas State University football players—of their own choosing—decided to honor a former teammate, as well as a former equipment manager, who both recently died. Players chose the symbol of a cross that included the two individuals’ initials for the simple memorial. Each teammate affirmed the design of the stickers, and—of his own accord—affixed the sticker to his helmet.

ASU—in what looks like an attempt to placate the unfounded complaints of activists with a lengthy track record of bullying schools across the country into removing religious references—told the ASU football team that they had to stop wearing their cross-shaped stickers or change the way the players chose to honor the former members of the program. The University changed the student memorial by physically trimming it into a straight line (which removed the vertical line that once formed a cross), so that only the portion of the stickers with the initials of the teammate and equipment manager remain.

ASU’s actions are religious viewpoint discrimination against the students’ free speech in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and numerous Supreme Court precedents.

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