A Christian university in Missouri dropped its Crusader mascot due to the "negative connotation and violence" associated with the term.
Evangel University, a private Christian school in Springfield, announced this week that the school would shed its Crusader mascot because the crusaders of medieval times killed Muslims, Jews, and other Christians in pursuit of the Holy Land. The decision was not made in lieu of "a cultural response to political correctness" but, rather, because the mascot stains the school's "reflection of Jesus Christ," according to the announcement.
"An increased level of awareness as to how we are perceived by others prompts us to consider how any representation we make as a university has the power to impact, both positively and negatively, the Church’s reputation," the announcement said.
The school first considered changing the mascot in 2007. Twenty-seven focus groups, in addition to Evangel faculty, students, and alumni, provided feedback on the mascot before the Board of Trustees made its decision. The selection process for a new mascot is underway.
Evangel University has used the Crusader mascot since it was established in 1955 with the intent to "depict strength, honor, and commitment to the faith." The conservative school of 2,300 students is associated with the Assemblies of God Church, a Pentecostal denomination of Christianity.
Professional sports teams and universities in recent years have shed mascots deemed insensitive or problematic. In February, Saddleback College in California dropped its Gaucho mascot in February because it was insensitive to Latino students. The football team formerly known as the Washington Redskins and the baseball team formerly known as the Cleveland Indians both discontinued their mascots, which they said offended Native Americans.