Administrators at Louisiana State University have apologized for censoring photographs of male students who had painted Christian crosses on their chests at a football game.
“We erred in our judgment and we have communicated our apologies to the group of young men represented in the photo, whose school spirit is second to none,” said Ernest Ballard, director of media relations at LSU, in an e-mail to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The photos in question depict a group of fans known as “The Painted Posse,” who paint themselves in their team’s colors at home games. They also paint small crosses on their chests to honor Jesus Christ, according to their Facebook page:
“Our goal as the Painted Posse is to portray Christ through our actions while cheering on our Tigers!”
University administrators published the photos in a campus-wide email following the football team’s October 13 win. The crosses, however, had vanished from the young men’s shoulders.
Administrators later admitted to airbrushing the Christian imagery out of the photographs — a decision they now regret, according Ballard.
“We did not intend to offend anyone by the editing of this photograph and in the future we will not make this kind of edit,” he wrote.
Cameron Cooke, a member of “The Painted Posse,” told CampusReform that he was surprised by the university’s actions.
“The cross painting is important to me because it represents who I am as a Christ follower,” he said.
The students disagreed with the university’s decision, but had also accepted their apology, according to a statement on their Facebook page:
“We, the members of the Painted Posse, do not agree with the University’s recent decision to airbrush crosses out of the photo of some of our members. We… acknowledge the efforts of the LSU administration and look forward to serving the university as both fans and students.”
While the university apologized for the way the matter was handled, officials maintained the right to use or edit the pictures in whatever way they wanted. The religious imagery was removed so as not to offend non-Christians.
“In messages to sports fans we attempt to convey no religious or political messaging of any kind,” wrote Ballard.
When asked for examples of other religious or political symbols that the university would refuse to publish, Ballard said only that the university would make that determination on a case-by-case basis.
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