Religious Symbol in Messwood Logo Prompts Parent Complaint and Removal
The Messmer/Shorewood football co-op's logo — a greyhound and bishop hat with a religious cross — will be removed from helmets after a parent complained and school officials agreed it infringed on the separation of church and state.
Updated 12:23 p.m. Wed. Oct. 10 with comments from Messmer President Br. Bob Smith
The Messwood football team will hit the field Friday night with a slightly different look after Shorewood school officials asked its team logo be removed from helmets because it violated the separation of church and state.
After reaching the postseason for the first time last year, the team looked to start the 2012 season with a new logo — a greyhound and a bishop’s hat with a religious cross.
Students in a graphic design class designed the new logo last year. The class submitted over 20 logo proofs to team head coach Drake Zortman, who vetted them through the administration at both schools before the final logo was selected.
Shorewood principal Matt Joynt said the idea of the logo was to create a team culture where students did not refer to themselves as a Messmer player or as a Shorewood player.
"It was part of a class assignment to take the traditions of both schools and sort of mold them together," Superintendent Martin Lexmond said.
The fact that it includes religious symbolism did not occur to any of the involved parties as possibly problematic given the longstanding relationship with Messmer, Lexmond said.
After a parent saw a story about the design of the logo in the high school’s student newspaper Shorewood Ripples on Oct. 3, she voiced her concern to school officials.
The School Board didn't take an official vote at a regular meeting Tuesday night but did agree the logo should be removed immediately and redesigned.
"I think it's inappropriate to have on a uniform or any sort of school-authorized clothing," board member Michael Mishlove said. "It can be viewed as an endorsement or otherwise of a particular sectarian view of religion."
Shorewood High School senior Jacob Schermer said religious symbols have no business being associated with the school.
"Is it fair to ask public students attending a public school to wear crosses on their helmets?" Schermer asked.
Messmer President Br. Bob Smith told Newsradio 620 WTMJ he's not happy with the Shorewood School Board's decision but he'll agree to remove the cross.
"It's going to be hurtful for the kid who designed the logo...it's going to be hurtful for the team," Smith told 620.
It will be up to Joynt how to address the logo for Friday night's game. The logo are decals and can be easily removed, Joynt said.
A redesign is in order, but will likely take some time. However the partnership with the Catholic school is supposed to be an equal partnership; Joynt added that there aren't many ways to incorporate the Bishops' mascot in a secular manner.
"This is a football team that dealt with the courts in order to make the playoffs last year," Joynt said. "It's handling it (the issue) in a way where drama isn't being brought to them."
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Messwood logo contained a crucifix. A crucifix depicts the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which the football team's logo does not. The logo does contain a religious cross. Story updated 10:02 a.m. Wednesday Oct 10.