A church in Catonsville, Maryland, has proposed a boycott against the Washington NFL team by asking its 22,000 members to shun products bearing the team’s logo and not attend the team’s games “until the name changes.” This decision by 25 members of the United Church of Christ’s board of directors came down on Saturday and was unanimously passed.
“If you look at the dictionary definition of the present team name, it’s a derogatory term,” the Rev. John R. Deckenback told the Washington Post. “We’d like the name of the team to be changed.”
Joel Barkin, a spokesman for the Oneida Indian Nation, said that more Americans will speak up in this fashion until the name is changed.
“The team should expect that the longer this plays out and the longer the debate goes on, and the more people are educated why there is so much strong objection to the name,” he told the Post, “there will be more and more economic consequences to continue using a dictionary-defined racial slur as a mascot.”
But Tony Wyllie, a senior vice president for the team said that the church’s boycott would not disrupt its long-standing traditions. “We respect those who disagree with our team’s name, but we wish the United Church of Christ would listen to the voice of the overwhelming majority of Americans, including Native Americans, who support our name and understand it honors the heritage and tradition of the Native American community.”
This statement tightly aligns with Dan Snyder’s steadfast refusal to change the name, which he has referred to as “badge of honor” and a symbol of “strength, courage, pride, and respect — the same values we know guide Native Americans and which are embedded throughout their rich history as the original Americans.”
“This was further evidence this is not simply an issue of political correctness, but a moral issue,” Barkin said, according to the Post. “This is the heart of the fan base saying, ‘While we support the team’s history and understand the legacy, it is no longer acceptable in the 21st century.’ We think the members of their churches will put more stock in what their religious leaders tell them than what the team owners have told them.”