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The Last Crusaders 

The Last Crusaders

For some, “Crusader” has become a dirty word. When former President George W. Bush called his War on Terror a “crusade,” his aides scrambled to reframe his words. Pope John Paul II apologized — twice — for the misdeeds of the Crusades endorsed by the popes of yesteryear.

Many Christians have come to see the Crusades as an embarrassing bloody blot on their history. And in the past 10 years, numerous Christian schools have scrubbed off “Crusader” from jerseys and gym floors.

Some worried about offending Muslims, others worried that the violence of the Crusades — seen by many as driven by religious fervor — dramatically contradicted their Christian mission.

Eastern Nazarene College traded their Crusader mascot for the Lions. At University of the Incarnate Word it became the Cardinals. At Spoon River College, the Mudcats. At Point Loma Nazarene University, the Sea Lions.

Even Billy Graham’s alma mater, Wheaton College, switched from the Crusaders to the Thunder.

But on the sprawling campus of Northwest Christian Schools at Colbert, Wash., the Crusader still lives.

The Crusader is the title of their newsletter. It’s on their hardwood floors. Several different iterations of a medieval crusader — one wielding a lance, one wielding a cross, one wielding a foam sword and dopey face mask — are peppered throughout their halls, Website, even their seat cushions.

The first Crusade kicked off with a pep talk from Pope Urban II in 1095, pleading for soldiers to join the fight against the Arabs and Turks in the Holy Land.

Naturally, the Crusades had their share of typical wartime atrocity — namely, the massacre of prisoners — but it got worse.

…continued on next page

RELIGION Many Christian schools have ditched their “Crusader” mascot, but not Northwest Christian — at least not yet DANIEL WALTERS

Jack Hancock, headmaster of Northwest Christian: “We just acknowledge that [the Crusader] is probably not the best representation of who we are.” [Young Kwak photo]

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