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Church calls for boycott over Washington team name


First proposed in March, the boycott has taken effect.

The Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ passed a resolution on Saturday urging it’s 40,000 members from 180 congregations to boycott games and to not wear, display, or purchase any items bearing the logo of the Washington NFL team until its name changes.

The resolution also calls upon the NFL and the team to change the name and to refrain from using images, mascots, or behaviors that are or could be deemed harmful or demeaning to Native Americans.

“I hope this debate will continue to draw attention to an unhealed wound in our cultural fabric,” Rev. Dr. John Deckenback, conference minister of the Central Atlantic Conference, said in a release issued by the Oneida Indian Nation. “Changing the name of the Washington NFL team will not solve the problems of our country’s many trails of broken promises and discriminatory isolation of our Native American communities. However, a change in the nation’s capital can send a strong message.”

The executive director of the National Congress of American Indians agrees.

“The name used by the Washington NFL team is widely recognized as a racial slur and promotes discrimination against Native Americans,” Jacqueline Pata said. “More and more organizations are joining our voices calling on team owner Dan Snyder and the NFL to change the name, and we are proud that the United Church of Christ and its members are standing with us.”

As explained on Friday’s edition of PFT Live, the notion that not enough Native Americans are offended by the team name necessarily disintegrates when the National Congress of American Indians takes up the cause. Founded in 1944, the NCAI “is the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.” Unless and until some other entity more representative of Native American people and culture comes forward and supports the name, it’s safe to say that enough Native Americans find the name offensive to compel action.

Of course, that doesn’t mean action will occur soon. But it’s now clear the debate won’t go away until the name does, and at some point in the future mainstream Americans will reflect on 2014 and wonder what in the world team owner Daniel Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell were thinking.

They can avoid that stain on their legacies only by changing the name of the team before they’re forced to do so. Snyder doesn’t seem to care. Goodell surely does.

But if Goodell is waiting, as some believe, for a point in time when the issue subsides in a way that allows Snyder to be nudged to change the name in a manner that doesn’t create the impression that the NFL and the team bowed to external pressure, there’s a chance that a lull will never come, and that the pressure will continue to increase until the name changes.