The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

United Church of Christ calls for Washington Redskins to change name

FILE: Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture, Mike Wang, and Zorayda Moreira-Smith, protest the name of the Washington Redskins, in the shadow of FedEx Field. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post
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The United Church of Christ has called for the Washington Redskins to change its name, announcing on Monday that it has asked its nearly 1 million members to boycott all team games and merchandise until the moniker is dropped.

“The use of the term ‘Redskins’ for the team mascot and nickname of the Washington football team is offensive and causes direct harmful effects to the public health and well-being of the Native American population,” the Rev. Linda Jaramillo, a national officer of the church, said in a statement.

The church is just the latest public organization or person to come out against the name, including President Obama, 50 U.S. senators, a parade of sports columnists and the Fritz Pollard Alliance — an influential nonprofit group that was instrumental in forcing the league to revise its minority-hiring practice.

In a joint statement, both the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation, which has led the push for a name change, offered support for the church’s decision: “We are honored to partner with the United Church of Christ in their effort to help relegate this offensive and outdated slur to the dustbin of history.”

The church has condemned the use of Native American imagery for sports teams since 1991, according to a release. It has also asked the Cleveland Indians to change its name and controversial mascot, Chief Wahoo. On Tuesday, church members in Cleveland plan to hand-deliver a related petition to Indians’ team offices.

Meanwhile, in California, a bill that would ban high schools from using “Redskins” as a moniker continues to advance through the legislature, according to the Huffington Post.

“Native Americans are people, not mascots,” said the Democrat who introduced the bill, Assemblyman Luis Alejo, according to the publication. “The way to truly honor Native Americans in the state with the largest Native American community is to pass this bill and get it signed by the governor.”

Team owner Daniel Snyder has argued that the name does, in fact, honor Native Americans, and he has asserted that many of them agree with him. Snyder has vowed to never change it.