A pastor in Warner Robins, Georgia is sanctimoniously outraged because his son — who will soon attend Warner Robins High School — will be known as a “Demon.” USA Today tells all about his angry campaign to change that (WebCite cached article):
Pastor Donald Crosby moved to Warner Robins about a year ago was furious when he found out his ninth-grade son would soon become a “demon.”
Crosby, who is pastor of Kingdom Builders Church of Jesus Christ, is on a mission to get rid of the Warner Robins High School Demons’ mascot.
One expects an evangelical pastor to throw around scripture citations in order to justify his complaint, but Crosby doesn’t do so (at least, not in this article). Instead he appeals to the dictionary … or more precisely, to what is not in dictionaries:
“A demon never has a good connotation. Never,” says Crosby. “If you look it up in Webster’s Dictionary, there’s nothing good about a demon.”
Even so, Crosby does fall into a common evangelical Christians’ misconception, which is to make everything into a religion:
Crosby says a pitchfork-wielding mascot sends the wrong message to teens.
“Hundreds of children gather into one place at one time chanting ‘Go Demons.’ It’s the equivalent of us gathering into a church on Sunday morning and shouting ‘Go Jesus’ or ‘Hallelujah Jesus,'” says Crosby.
Uh, pastor … there’s a big difference between chanting “Go demons!” and chanting “Go Jesus!”; I can guarantee that none (or almost none) of those people are actually worshipping demons, but people do commonly worship Jesus (in the US at least, and I assume it to be the case in Warner Robins).
As it happens, there’s an explanation for why the Warner Robins High School has “demons” as its teams’ nickname:
Principal Steve Monday says the origin of the demon as a mascot is not religious in nature. In fact, it started in World War II.
He says the school got its mascot from the 7th fighter squadron at Robins Air Force Base, which earned its nickname in the South Pacific.
“They adopted that name in honor of that fighter squadron — the ‘Screamin’ Demons,'” Monday said.
The simpleton Crosby isn’t buying this, however:
“There’s no airplane there,” says Crosby, holding up a picture of the mascot at a football game. “This doesn’t look like something that has to do with the Air Force.”
While this objection does seem to have a little logic, allow me to point out that the 7th Fighter Squadron has an insignia of its own (visible above), which just happens not to have an airplane in it, and also does not explicitly say anything about the Air Force. It only contains the unit name, not its identity as part of the Air Force.
The whole matter of team names is a sticky one, and — generally — people tend to make far too much of them. Demands to change them might have some value, however, sometimes these demands are based on erroneous beliefs. For instance, the teams of St John’s University in New York City used to be known as “the Redmen.” In the 1980s and 90s, many teams were pressured to move away from nicknames that had anything to do with native Americans, as it was considered derogatory toward them; so in 1994, St John’s teams became the Red Storm. But that school’s teams had never been called “the Redmen” because of any attempt by the school to denigrate native Americans. Rather, it was because they wore red uniforms … they were, literally, “men in red” or “red men.”
If it’s decided that Warner Robins High School’s teams can no longer be “the Demons,” then I guess some other schools have to change their names: DePaul University can no longer be the Blue Demons, and I suppose Wake Forest would no longer be the Demon Deacons. Extending this principle to the word “devil,” which is similar in meaning and I’m sure would also offend the pastor Crosby, Duke University would have to stop calling its teams the Blue Devils, and so too would Central Connecticut State University.
Enough is enough. It’s time we finally accepted that a name is a name. A marker. A label. A placeholder for something else. The name of a team is not an object in its own right that can be “worshipped” as pastor Crosby seems to believe. Let’s start being a little more mature about them, OK?
Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.
Photo credit: Holloman AFB media gallery.Tags: 7th fighter squadron, air force, athletics, blue demons, blue devils, christ, christian, Christianity, christians, demon deacons, demons, donald crosby, fundamentalist Christianity, mascot, mascots, nickname, nicknames, red storm, redmen, screamin demons, screaming demons, teams, warner robins, warner robins GA, warner robins high school, warner robins high school demons