Crosses Are a Sign of… What?!

A couple teenagers in Oregon were suspended because they wore Catholic crosses at school:

[Jaime] Salazar said Principal Chris Equinoa saw his necklace and told him to put it away. “I was like, why?” Salazar said. “He says it’s related to gangs.”

Salazar didn’t put it away. He was sent to the office. He went home instead. He got suspended for five days.

His friend, Marco Castro, faced a similar punishment. He was suspended for three days.

Equinoa said religious items are not banned. But, as principal, he reserves the right to ask a student to remove, or cover up, any item he feels could indicate gang affiliation even a crucifix.

The school district backs him up.

Principals have the latitude to determine the difference between genuine religious observance and gang symbols, said Jim Haggart, executive assistant to the superintendent.

The ACLU is (rightly) siding with the students:

David Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon told the Oregonian that educators should proceed with caution. Their intentions may be valid, but they run the risk of violating students’ rights, he said.“When it comes to restricting any form of expression, school officials have a pretty high bar to cross,” he said. “They better have very specific evidence that’s more than just a hunch.”

A similar case involving two students in New Caney, Texas, who were prohibited from wearing rosaries because they were considered gang-related ended up in a court in 1997. The judge ruled in favor of the boys, calling the school policy vague.

More information is needed to sort through this story: how the boys interacted with authority, how they were wearing the cross (around their necks or out of their back pockets), etc.

(via Reason)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://atheistokie.wordpress.com/ Atheist Okie

    Hemant,
    Check this out. This guy actually believes the “Atheist Influence” will lead to “Human Extinction. He even made a graph to show how it works.

    Other quirks of his is instituting a National Church, and enacting laws that make it illegal for atheists to speak out. Seriously!

    Here is his blog: http://christiancrosstalk.blogspot.com/

    Here is a link from his blog to his website and the graph:

    http://www.christiancrosstalk.com/

    http://www.christiancrosstalk.com/ai.html

  • http://t3knomanser.livejournal.com t3knomanser

    But the ACLU is a bunch of atheists that want to destroy all religion and burn down the churches with lawyers! They’re just trying to put the religious folk off their guard with this move. Mark my words.

    //Kidding, of course.

  • I like tea

    Despite being a near-militant atheist, I’m definitely on the students’ side here. The ACLU had a good point when they said the school needs some very specific evidence, because simply assuming that the students are criminals is frankly appalling.

  • Siamang

    Hemant, I can’t believe you made a pro-religious freedom post that specifically addressed Christians’ rights to free speech and free observance.

    Haven’t you heard, this blog is supposed to be increasingly more and more hostile to religion and the “friendly” word is more and more a misnomer.

    What are you doing defending the rights of Christians? Where’mI getting my snarky laugh at others’ expense for the day?

  • QrazyQat

    Gang: A group of criminals or hoodlums who band together for mutual protection and profit.

    So how is that different from the most visible church figures in the USA? :)

    Catholic Church
    Pat Pobertson
    Rev. Moon
    etc.

  • JimboB

    Looking at the picture, it looks like an ordinary cross.

    Perhaps the Catholic church is a gang. I mean, the higher ups do have a lot of bling bling ;) golden chalices, scepters, fancy hats, huge cathedrals

  • http://www.greyscalecomics.com Shaded Spriter

    If I was in a School which did this…I would make a point of wearing as many different religious (and other things like the darwin Fish, FSM, etc) symbols around my neck as possible…just to annoy the school

  • Maria

    that’s ridiculous


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