Professor develops sticker campaign in wake of RFRA

Bradie Gray

Love thy neighbor.

The Mathew 22:39 Bible verse urges Christians to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

With the recent uproar surrounding the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act – businesses turning away customers for their sexual preferences and protests on college campuses – Chuck Armstrong created a campaign to help spread the age-old message.

The assistant professor of graphic design created a sticker, a simple rainbow brushstroke only three inches wide and one inch tall, to help business owners tell the community they don’t tolerate discrimination.

Armstrong said he hopes to see it in windows or on the doors of local businesses.

“It was triggered because of the events surrounding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but it’s not so much a response to that bill,” Armstrong said.

“It’s sort of all the talk, debate, discussion, arguing back and forth, and the perception, whether its intentional or not that the bill is promoting bigotry and hatred. That may or may not be the intentions of the bill, and that’s not for me to decide, but you can’t deny that no matter which side of the fence that you’re on that that is now the public perception.

Armstrong said the stickers are a response to that.

He began designing a week ago and started a KickStarter campaign in hopes of raising $650 to cover the cost of printing.

Everyone who donated will receive a sheet of 15 stickers for every dollar they gave.

A week later, the campaign was funded with money to spare.

Because the initial campaign is over, Armstrong said he is creating a website with a PayPal link for those who want to continue donating.

“We’re getting the stickers printed and passed out and hopefully they’ll end up all over the place,” he said.

Armstrong said he is not surprised that he reached his monetary goal, but was surprised by the small number of backers.

“It didn’t quite go the way I thought it would. I thought that by getting a reward for every dollar pledge, everyone would just kind of click over and spend a dollar and I would get several hundred people like that,” he said.

Armstrong said some people signed up for five or 10 sheets, but very few people donated just a dollar.

“I had two donations that were over a hundred dollars,” he said.

His vision was of a few hundred people from all over donating a dollar – that way the stickers would be distributed to more places.

“Regardless, it was funded and fulfilled and we’re moving forward,” he said.

Virginia Poston, an art history instructor, Armstrong’s colleague and a supporter of the campaign, helped publicize the KickStarter through social media.

“Social media can have things take off for good or for bad,” she said. “So I was not really telling people to do anything. It’s just saying here’s some information about it if you wish to pursue it further.”

She said she enjoyed seeing the campaign succeed and seeing someone do something positive and tangible instead of having a negative reaction.

“I think even before the governor signed the bill, people were talking about having lists of businesses that were on the other side of the issue. The boycotts and that sort of thing were starting to come up, so it was nice to see the positive reaction to it in a ‘what can we do in a positive way?’ as apposed to reacting against in a negative way,” she said.

Poston said the business owners who feel they want to make a statement will use the stickers.

“A lot of businesses have the ‘We accept this kind of credit card’ signs, so maybe it’ll be something that’s sort of tucked in like that,” she said.

Beth Eversole, a sophomore studio art major, said the stickers are a good idea, but not a necessary one.

“I just kind of feel like everyone is blowing everything out of proportion,” she said. “Any businesses who are actually saying ‘no gays allowed’ or whatever are getting shut down immediately. People are refusing to go there.”

Eversole said the situation resolves itself.

“The people who are dumb enough to actually do that are getting pushed aside and taken out of business anyway,” she said.

Eversole said she wouldn’t necessarily respect any place of business more if they did use the stickers.

“I think, for the most part, I assume people disagree with not allowing people in,” she said.

Armstrong’s stickers are in the process of being printed and shipped – a process he said will take about two weeks.

The stickers will be shipped mostly to people in southwestern Indiana, Terre Haute and Indianapolis.