Despite their team’s stellar playing record, a group of Louisiana State University football fans is less-than-enthusiastic after the public college altered a photo to digitally-erase crosses that were painted on their chests. The Photoshopped image came to the fans’ attention after the university sent out an e-mail about the Tigers’ recent win on October 13. In the picture, the religious symbol was noticeably scrubbed off of the Christians’ bodies.
The men depicted in the image call themselves “The Painted Posse,” a group of believers who are also avid fans. They are known, as CampusReform.org notes, for painting their bodies with LSU colors and crosses and attending every home game. When they saw the photo, devoid of the crosses, they were stunned.
“I was a bit surprised, because our pictures get used so frequently, and the cross had never been edited before,” Cameron Cooke, a member of the group, said in an interview with CampusReform.org. “The cross painting is important to me because it represents who I am as a Christ follower and it reminds me who I need to act like in Death Valley.”
The school wasted no time in admitting that the crosses were purposefully removed and that the action was taken in an effort to avoid offending non-Christians. Vice chancellor for communications, Herb Vincent, said that the school did not want to be seen as endorsing a specific faith tradition.
“LSU Athletics attempts not to imply any particular religious or political message in any of its correspondence with fans,” Vincent responded. “Thus the crosses were edited out of the photos.”
In the future, he claims the college will avoid using similar pictures to avoid controversy — but he inevitably defended LSU’s decision.
“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,” he said.
FOX News notes that the Posse formed in 2003 and that the group has become very popular at LSU games, even making their way into national television broadcasts, ESPN and Sports Illustrated. While the group was surprised by the school’s cross removal, its members claim that they aren’t angry with LSU and that they don’t want to cause the university any harm.
“We’re going to be there game in, game out,” said Joel D’Aubin, another member of the Posse. “We love Christ; we love LSU. No, we don’t want anything.”