EDITORIAL: Play rename game with symbols of faith

Welcome back to Iowa State, a publicly supported land-grant university, one that’s tax-supported and can trace its origins back to the Constitution, which has some fuzzy wording about keeping separate church and state.

We’ve got a problem.

A professor on campus has complained about religious symbols on display in the Memorial Union – specifically a large, wooden cross in the back of a small room called the chapel, also a Star of David and menorah on a stained-glass window in the same place.

This is dangerous territory. Christian and Jewish symbols have heavy meanings to many people, but not everyone. And in a state institution in pluralistic society, we have an obligation to respect people of all, or even no, faiths.

We could just take these symbols out, right? That would be easy. And no one would have to be offended.

But here at Iowa State, we’ve got a better solution:

Rename the cross a nondenominational call for peace. And call the menorah a candlestick with bonus candles and the Star of David a criss-crossed triangle pattern.

And while we’re at it, we could call the chapel a life-skills room.

We have precedent for this decision.

This summer, incoming head football coach Gene Chizik wanted to introduce a privately funded team chaplain.

Some busybodies on campus started a petition against the position, saying it would violate the establishment clause of the Constitution.

Truce, cried Chizik, athletic director Jamie Pollard and ISU President Gregory Geoffroy. They proposed a compromise – hire a life-skills assistant, someone who could be available to athletes of all walks of life.

So they hired Kevin Lykins, a Baptist pastor from Texas who had worked with Chizik in the past, and strangely enough, was the man pegged for the initial chaplain job.

It’s not just the football team that’s used this solution.

We don’t have offensive Christmas lights on campus, but instead really pretty holiday ones.

And when you were taught to put together your resume, were you a waiter or a customer service and mobile communications specialist?

Moving these religious symbols out would just cost time and money.

Our objective reassignment plan is tested and true, free and easy, and should quash the concerns of any naysayers.