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Mocking Mormons: Controversy erupts over Baylor homecoming photos circulating on social media

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 1:10 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - People are upset over controversial photos of Baylor University students mocking their homecoming opponents--Brigham Young University.

In the photos, Baylor students are openly ridiculing the school that’s sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by making fun of polygamy, a practice the LDS Church renounced more than 100 years ago.

“It kind of made me sick to my stomach what I was reading and what I saw,” said “Amy”, a Baylor fan and LDS Church member who grew up in Waco and doesn’t want to be identified due to fear of online bullying and retaliation. “The fact that it’s 2021 and we’re still criticizing other people’s beliefs is appalling to me.”

In one photo, the caption reads “Baylor>Mormons” with the hashtag #bikebacktoutah, which references LDS missionaries.

In another photo of three girls, the caption reads “Hey @byufootball, I have multiple wives, too.”

Amy says it was hurtful and shocking to see the photos on social media: some she found herself, others were sent to her, she says.

“They think that they’re not doing anything wrong and that it’s funny, that’s when it’s a problem because it’s actually hurting a whole group of people,” she said. “There’s a really strong LDS community in Waco, and I feel if we support the Bears, and if we live in this community, we deserve just as much respect.”

One photo depicts a group of young men in the front of the student section at the Baylor football game whose chests are painted with the words “7 wives”.

In another photo, Bruiser, the mascot for the Baylor Bears, is seen posing in front of that same group of young men, plus, a screenshot of the photo shows “Baylor University” “liked” the series of photos which that photo was in on Instagram.

Baylor officials explained to KWTX, the mascot couldn’t see what was on the chests of the males behind him, and the University “liked” a carousel of photos, not the specific image with the “7 wives” reference, and they have since removed the “like”.

Another photo references one of Waco’s darkest moments: the Branch Davidian Siege and polygamist cult leader, David Koresh.

It shows a sheet hung outside of a residence painted with the words “BYU wishes they had as many wives as David Koresh.”

“Just bringing up David Koresh period is Waco is very unnecessary, it’s still a very triggering thing for a lot of Wacoans that had to live through that, and they know people that lived through that, and that’s just not ok,” said Amy.

Baylor University officials said they made thoughtful efforts to welcome BYU to Waco and the Big 12 over the weekend.

“Overall, Baylor has received tremendous positive feedback from BYU about its visit to Waco and McLane Stadium,” Baylor officials said in a statement to KWTX. “Our goal is to create and promote a gameday environment that respects our visitors, including this past weekend as the University made concerted efforts to warmly welcome BYU to Baylor, Waco and the Big 12. We shared BYU welcome posters at businesses throughout downtown Waco and invited BYU’s President and Director of Athletics to ride in the Homecoming parade.”

BU officials also claimed to be on the lookout for inappropriate messages during the game.

“The BYU hospitality continued into the football game with a game ball presentation on the field between Baylor, Big 12 and BYU leadership,” Baylor officials said in the statement. “Before and during the game, the University also had a very active presence to address any potential concerns, such as signs, that were inconsistent with our values in real time. We apologize that the activities of a few individuals did not uphold the University’s goal and values.”

“I really hope that the University does something about this, I feel like some of these students need to be held accountable,” said Amy.

KWTX reached out multiple times to BYU officials Tuesday for comment but did not hear back.

“I feel really awful for the people that traveled and came to see this football game and they were humiliated, and ridiculed, and insulted,” said Amy.

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