After decades in which Christian crosses were placed in public school classrooms in Italy, it looks like they’ll finally be taken down.
The decision was handed down by a panel of seven judges at the court in Strasbourg. They said that the display of crucifixes, which is common but not mandatory in Italian schools, violated the principle of secular education and might be intimidating for children from other faiths.
“The presence of the crucifix could be … disturbing for pupils who practiced other religions or were atheists, particularly if they belonged to religious minorities,” the court said. “The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities… restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions,” it added.
Crucifixes were an undeniable symbol of Catholicism, the court ruled, and as such were at odds with the principle of “educational pluralism.”
Not so surprisingly, not everyone is happy with this decision:
The newly-elected head of the main opposition Democratic Party, Pierluigi Bersani, commented that the ruling lacked common sense. “I think a longstanding tradition like the crucifix can’t be offensive to anyone,” he said.
Right… Unless the cross symbolizes how hundreds of millions of people around the world firmly believe you are going to spend eternity in hell because you prefer to think with your brain and not your heart.
Another upside to this decision is that it could start a trend, removing crosses (and other symbols of faith) all across Europe.
Which shouldn’t be a big deal at all. They’re unnecessary in public schools. Keep them at home or church. Good riddance.
(Thanks to Juliette for the link!)