The Patch

January 16, 2007

Tuesday 16th January 2007.

Filed under: UK News — Claire @ 12:10 am

In UK news this week, a 13-year-old Catholic girl has been told to stop wearing her crucifix to her ‘non-denominational mixed’ school…whatever ‘non-denominational mixed’ means. This has refuelled the debate about whether our country is going slightly overboard in attempt not to upset people with displays of religion. Yet another PC gone mad scenario, says the child in question’s father, who insists that, were a child of another religion to wear something representing their beliefs to class, they would not be asked to take it off. Not strictly true, since the debate regarding breaking rules to allow people to show symbols of many other religions than just Catholicism has been raging for some time.

Late last year, you may remember, there was an uproar when a British Airways employee lost a battle to be able to wear her cross at work. Earlier in 2006, a Muslim teaching assistant lost her job because she refused to remove her veil whilst in the classroom. And last March, a 16-year-old Muslim girl won a High Court battle against her school for the right to be able to wear a jilbab whilst being educated, after she claimed her school “…interfered with her right to manifest her religion“.

But are these arguments actually based on a Politically Correct desire to make certain areas of our lives religion-free? Some news sources would have you believe it, taking take a highly one-sided approach in their reporting of these sorts of stories. The fact that there may be other reasons why the restrictions occur is often omitted.

In the case of British Airways, the woman in question was prohibited from wearing a crucifix lapel pin because as part of their dress-code, the company does not allow employees to wear anything which might make it impractical for them to work. They claim that were they to allow employees to wear crucifixes whilst working, the floodgates would open and people of other religious groups would demand the right to wear symbols of their faith, no matter how unnecessary they might be (for example New Age crystals).

The Muslim teaching assistant was asked to remove her veil after her pupils complained that they couldn’t understand her.

And in the case of the Catholic schoolgirl, her school has maintained a zero tolerance policy on jewellery for several years.

These are practical reasons, some of which aren’t considered when arguments about religious paraphernalia occur.

But should we class religious symbols as jewellery, as a mere accessory? This is where the problem lies. To suggest that a crucifix is simply decoration akin to a clown pendant is probably incredibly insulting to someone who wears one to signify their faith, and to disallow displays of faith is always going to make the news. But people who are still restricted in what they can and can’t wear because it’s not religious won’t see it like that. For example, in a school, if a child is told off for coming to class with said clown pendant on display in all it‘s glory, is told to take it off, and then sees their classmate allowed to wear a crucifix, it is doubtful that they will find that fair, whether it is or not.

The Muslim girl who took her school to High Court was told originally sent home from school after being told that she couldn’t wear a jilbab because it was against the school dress code. The school excluded her after she refused to come to school in clothes that conformed to the dress code, and she was excluded. She maintained that she was practising her religion, and that the school’s dress code rule was an infringement of her right to do what was required of her as part of her faith. She took action and won her case that her school unlawfully restricted her from being educated. The ruling was subsequently overturned, though. This was because several other schools in the area allowed jilbab to be worn, so there were alternatives for education, and the school in question argued it had actually gone to pains to devise Muslim-friendly code of dress, despite a huge deal being made at the time about the school being anti-religious, over PC…all the usual.

What people don’t seem to get is that rules are set in places like schools for conformity, so that everyone can all be treated the same, and whilst I see the viewpoint of the people prevented from displaying their faith, if the rules are bent for religious reasons it may cause just as many problems as the restrictions do now. The line has to be drawn somewhere.

Advertisements

4 Comments »

  1. I personally think the time has come to declare the UK religion free and expel those who practise their faith in public. It is as much as an offense to non believers as it is to spit on the street for example. I want to be able to walk free proud of my atheist beliefs without the fear of upsetting random strangers if, when asked i claim to be non religious. Since there is and never will be any proof for any religion it should be considered fucking stupid along the same lines as people believing in the easter bunny. believing in a higher being is for people who dont wanna assume responsibility for their actions. wearing a crucifix, jilbab etc is as appalling to me as people carrying ak47s. do what you want in your own home, but dont advertise that shit to the public. thankyou and goodbye

    Comment by Richard — January 16, 2007 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

  2. Ah…tolerance, there.

    Comment by Gordon Burns — January 17, 2007 @ 11:27 am | Reply

  3. Well now I know what a Jilbab is. Some of these stories just make you sigh… Are people really that stupid? Let her wear what she wants to school. It isn’t hurting anybody. No. It isn’t hurting anybody.

    Comment by Marton — January 22, 2007 @ 7:55 pm | Reply

  4. Sorry to double comment, but wasn’t there a story a while ago about these penquins (or monkeys or something) being named ‘Leaping Homo Monkeys’, or ‘Big Gay Penquins’, or something like that? There was uproar amoungst straight people who didn’t want to offend any homosexuals, and several court cases later the monkey/penquins were named something else. The clincher was a letter from thousands of gay people saying “We wouldn’t have cared. What’s all the fuss about?”.

    I thought I should add this evidence. Even if it is horribly remembered.

    Comment by Marton — January 22, 2007 @ 8:03 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: