BY: REGINA PLANCHET
Last December, Franciscan University of Steubenville was honored that Christ the King Chapel was to be featured in a new logo for the city of Steubenville.
Over the summer, when faced with a lawsuit from the Madison, Wis.-based non-religious group Freedom from Religion Foundation over the inclusion of the chapel – specifically the cross, the city decided to remove the chapel from the logo.
“For more than 65 years, Franciscan University of Steubenville has proudly served as an integral part of this community and we were honored to have our chapel included in the new City of Steubenville logo,” Vice President for Advancement Michael Hernon said in a statement released this summer. “The city initially included our chapel because it represents Franciscan University, a world-renowned center of higher learning and one of the largest employers in the region. We find it particularly troubling that an out-of-town and out-of-touch group targeted the University for removal from the logo solely because of our religious identity.”
As to the claim that Freedom from Religion Foundation is out-of-touch, the spokeswoman of the organization, Annie Gaylor, told the Herald-Star that they had been contacted by a citizen of Steubenville.
Freedom from Religion Foundation got involved because the cross symbolizes Christianity and having it in the logo seemed that the city was endorsing Christianity over other religions, according to the group.
“It’s so clear why a city cannot and should not send a message that it has a Christian orientation, thereby making Christian residents favored insiders, and non-Christians, including non-believers, outsiders,” the Freedom from Religion Foundation said in a statement on their website. “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.”
The logo had been designed by Mark Nelson of Nelson Fine Art and Gifts. In addition to the chapel, the logo included Veterans Memorial Bridge, the clock tower at Hollywood City Center, and Fort Steuben.
In a response to the logo controversy on their website, Nelson Fine Art and Gifts said they designed the logo with the intention that each element would reflect the culture of the city.
“Nelson Fine Art and Gifts took great pride in being chosen to design the city logo, and continues to be at the direction of city management regarding its composition” read the statement. “If instructed in official capacity by city management, Nelson will make changes to the Steubenville logo as necessary.”
The city offered to replace the chapel with another campus building, but the university replied that none of the campus buildings capture the identity of the school in the same way that the chapel does.
An article posted on the UK Daily Mail’s website stated that Nelson redesigned the logo keeping the chapel silhouette in the logo but without the cross. Freedom from Religion Foundation was not satisfied, saying the chapel still represented Christianity.
At present the city is using a prior logo which features Fort Steuben.