Mar 18 2011
|EU rules that crucifixes are acceptable in public schools|
PARIS – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Friday that crucifixes are acceptable in public school classrooms, and its decision will be binding in 47 countries.
The ruling overturned a decision the court had reached in November 2009 in which it said the crucifix could be disturbing to non-Christian or atheist pupils. Led by Italy, several European countries appealed that ruling.
The case originated in Italy, and Friday's final verdict was immediately welcomed in Rome. "The popular sentiment in Europe has won today," said Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
The article says "it could be disturbing to non-Christian or atheist pupils". First: why "or"? Aren't atheists non-Christians?
The crucifix can be disturbing to non-Christians. After all, it is basically a torture device ... how would you feel if your child's teacher hung nooses and guillotines on the walls?
But, that is not the main point, in my mind. The question is whether the crucifix implies a bias on the part of the teacher or school system and how such bias will impact the students. Are people with other religious beliefs (or non-religious beliefs) prohibited from posting symbols of their religion in their classrooms? Is it implicitly telling the students "this is the religion we expect you to follow, whatever your parents or your conscience may tell you?" If the answer to these questions is "no", then I do not particularly mind it...but I strongly suspect that the answers are "yes".
I honestly do not know the EU constitution well enough to know what the legal restrictions are, but I can say that I think an open, modern society should not be using its public schools to force religious views on children.