Lost in the controversy of an airbrushed photograph of an LSU body-painted, student-booster group is the true mission of the religious football fans who call themselves the "Painted Posse."
"It's almost become more of like a hassle for us at this point," said Cameron Cooke, an LSU political science senior who was one of the students in a photo taken during the LSU-South Carolina football game.
The photo of Cooke along with Ben Wallace, Joel D'Aubin and A.J. Fagan was sent to the student body in a broadcast email on Oct. 16, but crosses painted on the members' chests had been edited from the picture.
A controversy over censorship ensued, reaching such national news outlets as the Huffington Post, and now Posse members are hoping to return the focus to football and Jesus.
Cooke said the group's purpose has never been to gain publicity but rather to show support for LSU and their Christian faith. D'Aubin, Cooke and Fagan attend LSU while Wallace is a student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
The Painted Posse formed several years ago, and current members said this is the seventh session. The group has about 16 members this year - a varying number attend home games - and nearly 100 have become alumni since its inception, according to D'Aubin, who noted the majority of the members are from the Baton Rouge area.
"The group was formed mostly to support LSU football, but we wanted to be a representation of who Christ is through that," Cooke said. "As Christians, our calling is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's the extent of what we believe, truthfully."
Group members are making no more statements regarding the edited photo because they don't want to take attention away from the upcoming LSU-Alabama game, Cooke said.
Also, they don't want to appear to be portraying LSU in a negative light, said D'Aubin, a mass communications junior.
"We're trying to make as few statements as possible so that what we say isn't misconstrued," Cooke said. "We're concerned with the way the university has been negatively publicized in the past few weeks."
Cooke said there is a movement for students to wear crosses to the football games, which the group endorses, but only if it's in support of Jesus Christ and not as a sign of rebellion or protest against LSU.
"We encourage anyone who would like to honor Jesus Christ to join us by wearing a cross on Nov. 3," the Posse stated in a press release. "We strongly discourage the wearing of a cross as a way to protest the university or its recent decision.
"We desire that no further negative light would be shone upon the university that we love. We acknowledge the efforts of the LSU administration and look forward to serving the university as both fans and students."
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