College prof compares Cross to swastika

An alert reader found this story on the site of a Texas TV station:

College Crucifix Ban Prompts Lawsuit

Published : Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009, 3:00 PM CST

      Melissa Cutler
      FOX 4 News

MESQUITE, Texas – Joe Mitchell says all he wanted to do was make crosses as gifts for friends when he signed up for a ceramics class at Eastfield Community College in Mesquite.

Instead, he says, the ceramics instructor compared the crucifix to a swastika in trying to explain why crosses were not permitted.

“I felt humiliated and that my spirituality was being demeaned,” said Mitchell, a retired Dallas resident and student at the public college. “The whole point of art is to express who you are.”

Mitchell says he was told on several occasions by instructors and administrative staff that he could not make ceramic crosses, concluding with an ultimatum ban on crosses this fall.

“Unfortunately, not everyone has the Christmas spirit or even a basic understanding of religious freedom,” said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel of Liberty Legal Institute. “The government cannot ban crosses and religious symbols.”

Shakelford says college officials are not only banning crosses, but menorahs and other religious items from the class.

In response, the institute sent a demand letter on Tuesday on behalf of Mitchell, alleging the school has committed an unconstitutional attack on religious expression in the classroom.

Eastfield Community College officials issued a statement saying it’s legal council will review the schools policy and language, quote:

"Eastfield College’s current ceramics policy tells students that they should not use symbols, icons or other "cookie cutter" images. The purpose of those references is to compel students to create original works that express their artistic perspectives through projects assigned by instructors. The college has never intended to circumvent expressions of religious or artistic freedom or violate any laws with regard to religious freedom. "

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  1. brianwalden says:

    What’s the point of art if not to testify to the truth and beauty of humanity and all of God’s creation. Banning religious symbols is not only unconstitutional, it’s just plain bad art. Even someone like me who’s had nothing but art classes in public school knows that.

  2. irishgirl says:

    If this ‘professor’ had any brains at all, he would know that the swastika is actually of Hindu origin, not Christian at all!

    In fact, the Empress Alexandra of Russia used it as a ‘good luck’ symbol, especially in the months of the Romanov family’s captivity in Siberia. She scratched it on a window pane of the house where they were executed. And for her last Christmas, one of her daughters gave her a diary that had a swastika on the cover. I saw this in a book I have about Nicholas II and Alexandra. The Nazis perverted the symbol, and of course it’s been associated with them.

    The college owes this student an apology!

  3. JohnE says:

    “Eastfield College’s current ceramics policy tells students that they should not use symbols, icons or other ‘cookie cutter’ images.”

    So, I expect they will also crack down on the use of circles, squares, triangles, hearts, diamonds, and any other “cookie cutter” shapes? Or just religious ones?

  4. Titus says:

    I can imagine a class focusing exclusively on a-representational art. Such a class would be inane, but at least conceivable. In that case a prohibition on student art that incorporates—or simply is—religious imagery would probably only be legal if indeed the class prohibited all other representational or iconographic art (circles, trees, etc.) as well. I don’t know how you sculpt something that doesn’t look like anything, but that would be the nutshell legal analysis.

  5. Melania says:

    I’m glad a law suit is being filed. It’s important not to let outrages like this go by.

    Another tactic I’ve heard of in response to this kind of discrimination is to start creating “art” which attacks leftist/secularist icons and watch the reaction. In one case, this caused quite a flurry in the Art department. The result was they backed off … at least for a time.

    I’m not sure what the perfect Christian response is to this type of behavior, but I’m sure it is not to be a passive victim.

  6. Konichiwa says:

    Whoa! That’s local news for me. That college prof just ought to grow up.

  7. Father Ignotus says:

    I seem to recall the “Catholic Sourcebook” as listing the swastika as a legitimate form of the Christian cross. (The implication obviously being that the Nazis took a Christian symbol and perverted/desecrated it, sort of like the gays have done with the rainbow.) However, that is the only source in which I have ever seen the swastika listed as a Christian symbol, and now irishgirl above says that it is Hindu.

    The Catholic Sourcebook is a wonderful resource, but the problem is that it generally does not cite where it gets any of its information, so ones does have to read it more carefully.

  8. Konichiwa says:

    I wonder who the prof is. There’s two teaching Ceramics I and II. One must be an adjunct faculty. No other details is released for us to send in a nice Email to the prof.

  9. starybaca says:

    Swastika is almost as old as civilization. As for Christianity, you can find it in churches and cementeries across Europe, from France to Ukraine. To name a few: Tomb of St. Ambrose in Milan, cathedral in Amiens (France), romanesque church of St. Peter and Paul in Kruszwica (Poland), et.c. etc.

  10. Supertradmom says:

    Every time this sort of thing happens, we need to use the law to back us up. I hope she pursues this in court.

  11. Several things here.

    1) It’s a community college art class. Unless students are aiming to use the class as a credit toward further serious art study, it seems silly to go mArtinet on them. If anything, you’d expect the teacher to demand originality within forms, and perhaps insist that Joe Student do a different cross design every time if he wants to do crosses. Apparently this Joe Student just wanted to use the clay and kiln; and he’d paid the tuition and materials fees. If a lot of other people want to use it as a craft class to make Christmas presents, obviously they either need to indicate in the catalog that this isn’t the class for them; or the art department needs to offer both a craft ceramic and an art ceramic class.

    2) Swastikas are found all over. American Indians, Hindus, Celts, Germans, the whole nine yards. It’s just a cross gone bendy, like a wheel.

    3) Nazi swastikas are set up to be the widdershins version of the actual sunwise swastika shape. They were purposefully calling on evil and bad luck.

    4) St. Brigid’s crosses (the 4-armed kind, anyway) are indeed woven in a sunwise swastika shape. People try not to point this out, because there are a lot of Irish people to take it badly. But they are indeed meant to represent the Cross of Christ, as seen by a culture that really likes making lines bendy.

  12. DominiSumus says:

    This professor has forgotten that the majority of the most celebrated art has been of “cookie cutter” images and “icons”.

    I will assume he sees little artistic value in Michaelangelo’s pieta or his crucifix.

  13. John 6:54 says:

    Ceramic Professors at Eastfield – James D. Watral

    Maybe we could all send Mr. Watral a Christmas card with a cross and/or crucifix.

    If you’d like Mr. Watrals email you can goto:

    Fr. Z if this comment goes to far I apologize in advance.

  14. pablo says:

    Texas is the only State in America that has their hatred of Mexicans and the Priesthood written into its State Constitution.

    Texas is the only State in America that has a captured Roman Catholic Mission on display for the world to see their hatred of Christ and His Church (the Alamo).

    Texas was the staging ground for the American Freemason assault on Holy Mother Church and their subsequent murder of Catholic Priests and Faithful in Mexico during the Cristero rebellion. And so on.

    This young man does not understand the meaning of the State Motto of Texas — ‘Don’t Mess With Texas’; translation: Don’t bring your Jesus Christ stuff into our State or public places.

    Anyone that is a follower of Christ should understand America is not a Catholic nation. We are not welcome here, we are tolerated. Just as the Jews were in Egypt.

    And just as Egypt, America bows only to its false gods.

    If you want to give away crucifixes, go to the church gift shop and buy some, like the rest of us. You will also be supporting the Church, not the public school system.

    May God our Lord in His infinite and supreme goodness be pleased to give us His abundant grace, that we may know His most holy will, and entirely fulfill it.

    Santa María de Guadalupe Esperanza nuestra, salva nuestra patria y conserva nuestra Fe.


  15. MichaelJ says:

    You obviously have not seen my works. Every time I sculpt something, it doesn’t look lile anything ;)

  16. MikeM says:

    To be fair, we don’t know the context in which the professor compared the cross to a swastika. As tasteless as it is to make that comparison at all, I like to reserve judgement on these things when appropriate, since I know I can only imagine what would happen if people went around taking everything I said out of context.

  17. Emilio III says:

    pablo, with all due respect, bullfeathers! (As they say in Texas)

  18. Clinton says:

    Pablo, as a Catholic raised in heavily Baptist East Texas, I have to disagree with you. My experience is that a weak religious affiliation
    is regarded with concern and curiosity, but a strong faith of any sort is treated with respect. So, for your take on Texas– well, as we
    say here, ‘that dog won’t hunt’.

    The article doesn’t make it very clear just how the instructor was comparing crosses to swastikas. Perhaps it was an innocent, albeit
    tactless comparison of the two from a purely graphic standpoint.

    I could understand the ceramics instructor could grow impatient with seeing students sign up for the class only to churn out cookie-
    cutter projects that don’t stretch them or cause them to learn anything new about pottery. Perhaps the student could have been
    encouraged to try his hand at a more demanding project, like creche figures or a crucifix. Simply banning religious symbols, as I’m
    sure the staff at ECC have figured out, merely stirs up a hornet’s nest.

  19. Susan the Short says:

    An expanded version of this story is available at:

    The article contains this quote:
    “Mr. Mitchell brought a ceramic cross to the meeting as an example of the things he wished to make,” the complaint states. “When Mr. Watral saw it, he physically recoiled in disgust, throwing his arms up into the air.”

    Watral is the professor.

  20. Vetdoctor says:

    When Mr. Watral saw it, he physically recoiled in disgust, throwing his arms up into the air.?

    Disgust at a religious symbol or disgust that he has a student who wants to make two clay snakes, lie one perpendicular to the other and call it art?

  21. Dave N. says:

    Like it or not, I know many Jews who would agree with this statement, basically due to anti-Semitism carried out in the name of Christianity. Sad.

Comments are closed.