The city of Steubenville, Ohio, has removed images of a cross and church from its logo after receiving complaints from an out-of-state group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The group reportedly threatened to sue the city over what it felt was an unconstitutional use of religious imagery. A representative for the FFRF, which is based outside of Ohio, said it learned of the logo from a Steubenville resident.
The city ultimately agreed to change the logo, explaining that it could not afford an expensive lawsuit. Many officials with the university and city say they feel bullied by the FFRF, which threatened legal action to enforce "its interpretation of separation of church and state that is not included in the Constitution."
City officials say the cross and church depicted on the logo are meant to represent Franciscan University, a Catholic college and one of the city's top employers. According to the university's vice president of advancement, the cross and church were included "not because of our faith, but rather our role in the community." He added, "This out of town and out of touch group decided that they wanted to purge all reference to religion from the public life." The city proposed another logo which lacked the cross but retained a silhouette of the church, but that design was also rejected by the FFRF.
The FRFF recently published a post regarding the incident on its website, calling it a victory for the organization. A representative with the group said that because individuals of all religions "must be welcomed as full participants" of public life, the government should refrain from using any religious symbols or ideas. Until a new logo can be designed, Steubenville has reverted to an older logo, which depicts a colonial fort and an unmarked flag.
Source: Daily Mail, "City forced to remove cross from their logo after out-of-state atheists threaten to sue," Nina Golgowski, July 27, 2012