Selected Article Excerpts:
- A Marine fighter squadron challenged on its use of the “Crusaders” name and cross-and-shield symbolism as its insignia has been ordered to reverse the decision, and to return to identifying itself as “Werewolves,” the Marine Corps said on Thursday.The news came a month after the nonprofit Military Religious Freedom Foundation blasted the use of the Crusaders name and logo — citing constitutional and practical objections — on behalf of dozens of soldiers, including Marines in the affected squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122. (See msnbc.com’s original report here.)
- The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which advocates complete separation of church and state, welcomed the policy change.”This is a great victory. Lady liberty is smiling today,” said Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of foundation. “We commend the Marine Corps,” he said, but added: “The Marines Corps does not get a gold star for doing the right thing because they shouldn’t have done the wrong thing in the first place.”
- The squadron, based in Beaufort, S.C., used the Crusaders symbol from 1958 to 2008, when Lt. Col. William Lieblein pointed out that imagery invoking the Christian conquest and colonization of Muslim nations during the Middle Ages was counterproductive to the U.S. presence across the Arab and Islamic world. “The notion of being a crusader in that part of the world doesn’t float,” he said, ordering the change to “Werewolves,” as reported by the Beaufort Gazette at the time.
- As of May 18, legal counsel for Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos continued to defend the use of the Crusaders name and symbolism in a teleconference with a lawyer for the foundation.
- The military attorney questioned whether the cross was a religious symbol and argued that the crusades were really military, not religious in nature, according to an account of the meeting verified by Caroline Mitchell, a lawyer from the firm Jones Day, which is representing the foundation.
- “We still demand that those who made the decision … be fully and aggressively prosecuted so this never happens again,” said Weinstein. “And we want a full accounting of how much money it cost taxpayers to change the name from Werewolves to Crusaders and back to Werewolves.”