Evangel University announced Friday that the school’s interim President Dr. George Wood, the Board of Trustees, and the President’s Cabinet are getting rid of the school’s Crusader mascot.
The Crusader has been the official mascot of the Christian school since its inception in 1955.
“The world has changed significantly since the 1950s, when the Evangel community, intending to depict strength, honor, and commitment to the faith, first identified a Crusader as the school’s mascot,” Dr. Wood said in a press release. “Today, we recognize that the Crusader often inhibits the ability of students and alumni to proudly represent the university in their areas of global work and ministry.”
A press statement from the school says the decision came from a “lengthy and thoughtful review process” that began in 2007. The release says “ad hoc committees” and “focus groups consisting of faculty, staff, students, and alumni” overwhelmingly recommended what the school terms the “retirement” of the Crusader mascot.
“I fully support the decision made by Evangel to retire the Crusader mascot and identify a new mascot that will serve the university well in the future,” Dennis McDonald, athletics director, said in the press statement.
The University states on their website that this action is not in response to the current “cancel culture” atmosphere in the nation.
“Ultimately, this decision was made because our Christ-centered focus requires it,” the school says on a website. “This is not a cultural response to political correctness, but simply the right thing to do.”
“Essentially, we understand how our reflection of Jesus Christ is marred by our representation as Crusaders,” the website explains. “The nearly universal connotation of ‘Crusader’ is tied to the Crusades of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries, when Western Christians waged a series of “holy wars,” during which thousands of Muslims, Jews, and Eastern Christians were killed.”
The University plans to have a committee of students, alumni, faculty, and athletic staff guide the process to find the school a new mascot.