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United Church of Christ proposes boycott of Washington Redskins

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“The church where God is still speaking.” That’s the slogan of the United Church of Christ, and if we are to accept that claim as gospel, then God just became involved in the kerfuffle over the team name of Washington, D.C.’s NFL franchise. Carol Morello of the Washington Post writes:

The governing body of United Church of Christ congregations in the Mid-Atlantic is proposing that its members boycott Washington Redskins games and shun products bearing the team’s logo until the team changes its name and mascot.

In a meeting Saturday in Catonsville, the 25-member board of directors of the Central Atlantic Conference of the UCC unanimously passed the boycott resolution, pointedly avoiding use of the word Redskins. The board, mostly laypeople, proposed that the 22,000 members of the liberal denomination “join a boycott of games played by the Washington National League Football team and not wear, display or purchase any items with the Washington National League Football team logo until the name changes.”

The church, which made headlines in 2008 because of its most famous and now former congregant, Barack Obama, takes exception with the characterization of it as liberal. Yet, its advocacy for gay rights, including an endorsement of marriage equality, suggests its leaders doth protest too much.

Tony Wyllie, a spokesman for the Redskins, responded to the church’s boycott announcement, saying:

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.

But that is an oversimplification. As the Post article notes, at least one tribe, the Oneida Nation of upstate New York, finds the name objectionable and has been seeking support from business, religious, and political leaders.

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