When Christians argue that Jesus Christ has no religious significance

An Ohio public school superintendent is defending the ginormous reproduction of Sallman’s “Head of Christ” that hangs in a Jackson City school building. He says the iconic portrayal of a white Gentile Jesus does not privilege or establish religion, but merely reflects “the culture of our community.”

You can use a lot of words to describe a larger-than-life reproduction of this particular painting, but I’m not sure “culture” should be one of them. (OK, yes, fine — everything is culture. But still.)

Hemant Mehta says the portrait is a clear endorsement and privileging of sectarian religious and that it has no place in a public school. He’s absolutely right.

This is not Sallman’s “Head of Christ.” This is Hunstein’s Head of Cash. I like this better.

It’s not just that this is an illegal establishment of religion, but that it’s just plain not fair to privilege one particular sect over everyone else. Instead of plastering pictures of Jesus in our public spaces, forcing non-Christians to see that our team outnumbers their team, Christians should try to think about what Jesus told us. He said we should be fair. He said “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Hemant doesn’t quote that verse from the Gospel of Luke, but he cites the idea of it in another post about yet another public school where a teacher has turned her classroom into a sectarian shrine, covering the walls of the room with Bible verses. Hemant writes: “Can you imagine what the response would have been like if [the teacher] were Muslim, with Koran verses lining her walls? Or an atheist, with quotations from Christopher Hitchens greeting students each day?”

The Jackson City Sallman’s “Head” print was a gift to the school in 1947 from a student YMCA club. The YMCA had distributed pocket-sized versions of the picture to GIs during World War II.

After the war, interestingly:

Groups in Oklahoma and Indiana conducted campaigns to distribute the image into private and public spaces. One Lutheran organizer in Illinois “said that there ought to be ‘card-carrying Christians’ to counter the effect of ‘card-carrying Communists.”

So there’s quite a history of using this particular image as a tribal totem for culture warriors.

In other words, this isn’t about “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” This is just about pissing on trees to mark our tribal territory.

On the positive side, though, at least the Jackson City school just has the painting hanging in a stairwell. It could be worse — they could be using it in art classes.

Sallman’s “Head of Christ” can be found in almost every evangelical church in America. It is a popular, iconic, beloved image of Jesus for millions of American Christians. Yet defenders of having the painting in a public school argue that this devotional icon of Jesus Christ has no sectarian meaning.

This is why the separation of church and state is vitally important for Christians. When Christians are standing around arguing that Jesus Christ  has no particular religious significance to us, then something has gone horribly wrong.

For a good history of Warner Sallman’s ubiquitous image, see Victoria Emily Jones on “Sallman’s Pretty Jesus.”

 

  • P J Evans

    If Jesus has no particular religious significance, then why do they want everyone to be Christian, and why do they feel the need to have pictures of him in public buildings?
    They seem to be a bit confused.

  • Mary

    It is just another example of the poor “persecuted” Christians wanting special privileges. And then lying about their motives. Maybe the ten commandments SHOULD be posted in schools (NOT). Why don’t they start with “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”

  • Jurgan

    So, a couple of questions I’m not clear on.  First: Does a teacher putting up Bible verses in her classroom automatically make it a “shrine?”  I can see why plastering every wall would be improper, but having, say, a page-a-day Bible calendar on her desk would be appropriate, correct?  At what point is the teacher a representative of the state, and at what point is she a private individual?  Second: Would the painting be appropriate if there were paintings significant to other religions there?  I’ve never been clear on this one.  Some people say disestablishment simply means that the state cannot privilege one religion over another, but does that mean it’s okay if they have other religious iconography present?  How many religions need to be represented- every one that a student at the school claims?  And what about atheists?  Or Jehova’s Witnesses, whose religion (I believe) forbids any sort of iconography at all?  I’ve heard similar arguments about nativity scenes on public land- they’re okay if other religions are represented as well, but certainly we can’t accommodate every religion in the world.  Do we wait for adherents to request a new display put up before taking action?  I’m confused on this point- any legal scholars out there?

  • Baby_Raptor

    Nah, Fred, I think they’re just telling the truth when they say that. There are quite a few Christians nowadays for whom Jesus and his words are nothing more than a flimsy projection they use to further their own goals. Money, power, what have you.

    This school guy just seems to have accidentally been honest about it all. 

  • SisterCoyote

    Bill O’Reilly made a similar argument, IIRC – that Christianity was not a religion, but a philosophy, a way of life. It’s all… very strange.

  • Amoros Pierre

    ” So, a couple of questions I’m not clear on.”

    Let me try and help, with my perspective as a french atheist.

    “First: Does a teacher
    putting up Bible verses in her classroom automatically make it a
    “shrine?””

    If the verses are put “up”, displayed for students to see, yes.

    “I can see why plastering every wall would be improper, but
    having, say, a page-a-day Bible calendar on her desk would be
    appropriate, correct?”

    Probably, if it is turned to face the teacher. Once you turn it towards the kids, you display it, and you fall back to the case above.

    ” At what point is the teacher a representative of
    the state, and at what point is she a private individual?

    From first bell to last bell, (s)he’s a representative of the state. From the moment (s)he’s not working, she’s a private individual. Breaks are a grey area, I’d say (s)he’s a representative of the state when interacting with the kids, a private person if secluded in some way. Depends on his  or her contract, I think.

    “Second: Would
    the painting be appropriate if there were paintings significant to
    other religions there?”

    No

    ” I’ve never been clear on this one.  Some people
    say disestablishment simply means that the state cannot privilege one
    religion over another, but does that mean it’s okay if they have other
    religious iconography present? How many religions need to be
    represented- every one that a student at the school claims?”

    In theory, you’d have to have icons for everyone of the hundreds of religions practiced today (or even the thousands f religions practiced throughout history). In practice, any religious icon does privilege one religion over another, so isn’t it simpler not to put up any?

    “And what
    about atheists?”

    We don’t have religious icons. Because we don’t have any religion.

    ” Or Jehova’s Witnesses, whose religion (I believe)
    forbids any sort of iconography at all?”

    Well, another argument for not putting up any religious display at all, don’t you think?

    ” I’ve heard similar arguments
    about nativity scenes on public land- they’re okay if other religions
    are represented as well, but certainly we can’t accommodate every
    religion in the world.  Do we wait for adherents to request a new
    display put up before taking action?”

    One solution I have seen was to put the display spot as winnings in a lottery. I’m OK with that. The thing is, when atheists entered and won that lottery, it’s the christians who complained that they were persecuted.

    ”  I’m confused on this point- any
    legal scholars out there?”

    All my answers are my own. I’m not a lawyer, especially not one familiar with americain law.

  • EllieMurasaki

    At what point is the teacher a representative of the state, and at what point is she a private individual?

    Is she in her classroom? Is she on the clock? If either answer is yes, then she’s representing the state.

    Would the painting be appropriate if there were paintings significant to other religions there?

    It’d be less inappropriate.

    (Unless the classroom is dedicated to a survey of religion. Which is frankly a course I think public schools ought to have, on the grounds that the public’s knowledge of the diversity of religious belief is appalling. Case in point, forty-five percent of US folks think the Golden Rule is one of the Ten Commandments; even if we make the (false) assumption that every US nonChristian is among that number, that leaves eighteen percent of the US population who ought to know it but don’t. And a survey-of-religion course ought to be permitted religious classroom decorations, same as the English classroom gets poetry on the walls and the history classroom gets maps. But fuck if I know how to make sure that all public schools with a survey-of-religion class would be teaching it in a manner neutral to all the flavors of religious belief including nonbelief,)

  • arcseconds

    I’ve never seen that painting before. 

    But it’s awful. 

    Forget about the non-establishment clause.  There’s got to be something in the constitution, or the universal declaration of human rights, or somewhere, about not being subject to hideous kitsch, doesn’t there?

  • David Starner

    I think that a classroom should be devoted to the job. Personal expression should be there where it adds, not detracts, from the subject. A science teacher should not be taking space by putting up non-sciencey posters. It steps beyond poor teaching when they’re pushing a political or religious position.

    As for the painting, I think it’s telling that multiple paintings from multiple religions are rarely a question. Occasionally, we get a menorah mixed in with Christmas stuff, but that says something about the complexity of where Christmas sits in our culture. This is a purely religious message, and nobody has any intention of sending a mixed one.

  • konrad_arflane

    I’ve heard similar arguments about nativity scenes on public land- they’re okay if other religions are represented as well, but certainly we can’t accommodate every religion in the world.  Do we wait for adherents to request a new display put up before taking action?

    My understanding is that some towns and cities have tried to make their public-property nativity displays legal by declaring whatever area houses the display a “public forum”, meaning that anyone who wishes to put up a display can do so. This gets around the need to “accommodate every religion in the world” by limiting the number of displays to those religions who have adherents in the area who can be bothered to put up a display (and implicitly stating that any religion not represented only has itself to blame).

    Of course, this solution tends to piss off the RTCs, since what they *actually* want is not a nativity display so much as territorial marker.

  • Matthias

    I don’t think it is so easy to differentiate when you are a representative of the state and when not. To take an examples from my own class: When one of the students was unable to pay for a trip to Rome this would have ment that the whole class couldn’t go and the state was unwilling to make up for the difference. So our teacher payed the mony from his own pocket. It was certainly in his class room and on the clock but it was definitly not as a representative of our state as the state had pointedly refused to pay.

  • Mrs Grimble

    If they want a picture of Jesus, I can think of many that are far better than  Sallman’s pretty-pretty effort.  For instance, how about a Caravaggio?  He painted quite a few Jesus portraits.  Some of them – ‘The Deposition”,  “The Flagellation”  and so on – might be a bit icky for a school, but “The Supper at Emmaus” would be perfectly appropriate; it depicts the astonishing effect of the resurrected Jesus on the representatives of humanity sitting at the table.
    Plus, it’s a damm good painting that you can sit and look at for hours, finding new things to look closer at and wonder about.  Meanwhile Sallman’s portrait is, as somebody said, exactly like a magazine ad for hair shampoo, with about as much depth and meaning.  In fact, that school superintendent is quite right – it’s NOT religious. They may as well put up a Thomas Kinkaid Christmas print.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    On a Christian talk radio yesterday, there was a caller who shrieked: “How do they even knooow it’s a picture of Jesus???  No one knows what The Lord really looked like!!!”
    Okay, then.  Why do you want a picture of an unknown person in a place of honor on your wall?

    It ALWAYS happens this way when it comes to placing religion in public places.  According to the RTCs, it is either the most important thing in the world or the least, depending on the audience. 

    A little ole picture of Jesus?  Oh, how like you whiny atheists, to make so much of something that is No Big Deal.  Why, I never even knew the picture was there until you atheists brought it up! 

    How like those evil atheists, to try to STEAL our precious history and religion!  They are oppressing us!  They are intolerant of our intolerance!  Those COMMIES!

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    I wonder how that caller feels about Piss Christ, then. It’s just a piece of plastic in urine, after all.

  • Launcifer

    A shampoo ad? Nah, with that much forehead, the guy’s quite obviously in the pay of the Advanced Hair Studio.

    Being serious for a moment, I don’t quite get it either. There are so many pieces of distinctly Christian artwork that are just astonishing displays of technical ability, whereas this thing is – to put it mildly – a bit crap. If I was going to foist a piece of sectarian anything on someone, I rather hope that I’d at least exhibit enough good taste to pick one that was worth looking at in its own right.

  • Leo_k_lyons

    Well, no, the teacher’s still a representative of the state. Teachers can wear other hats in the classroom, sure, but if there’s a contradiction between what a teacher wants to do and what the state says a teacher needs to do, the state wins. You can follow state law and choose to be generous with your students. You can’t follow state law and choose to proselytize to your students.

  • Kirala

    This is tangential to Fred’s point, which is about a patently false rationalization for an obviously unConstitutional and sectarian act. But it’s a tangent on my mind lately.

    As a public school teacher, I worry a lot about the boundary between my personal faith and my professional job. Obviously, no proselytizing or being a professional Christian on the clock; that’s easy enough, I’m not inclined to it off the clock. I respect my students’ religious views, encourage a class environment where students respect one another’s views, and avoid presenting mine altogether, let alone presenting mine as an example. Well enough.

    But what do I do when a Christian student is trying to use my faith to argue against abortion in a debate class? Is it really inappropriate for me to talk to them privately to explain where there are sectarian as well as secular flaws in their argument? What about the student who is tearfully wondering why other people just don’t love Jesus like she does? What about the student who is passionately interested in proving to his conservative parents that homophobia is wrong and unBiblical? These are all actual scenarios I have had to face. Then there are the students who have experienced spiritual abuse at the hands of Christians, to whom I wish to apologize on behalf of the conscience-bearing members of my faith. To whom I wish to say, “That parent/authority figure was wrong to treat you that way, and you are a wonderful person who has every right to be an atheist/Pagan/Muslim etc., and this Christian authority figure wants you to believe that.” I wonder, sometimes, if it were generally known that I were a Christian, if students would be able to take that speech more seriously.

    When a teacher is merely an instructor, the separation is clear and professional. When a teacher finds themselves in the position of mentor, counselor, helper – as we often do – it suddenly becomes very hard to hide any fundamental aspect of our life philosophies.

  • Ken

     There have also been a few cases where the creche proponents tried to argue that a nativity scene was secular, like an inflatable snowman or Santa on a sleigh.  And wasn’t there a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court, regarding a cross in a national park, where the court held that the cross was OK because it wasn’t really a religious symbol?

  • EllieMurasaki

    That’s just the same problem, only more expensive, as teachers paying for their students’ pencils and/or textbooks on account of the school ain’t funded for shit. I would argue that such teachers are indeed representing the state in that exchange–the part of the state actually doing its job.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I dunno about any crosses, but according to the Supreme Court “In God We Trust” is nonreligious and can thus stay on the currency.

  • Photon

     Is she in her classroom? Is she on the clock? If either answer is yes, then she’s representing the state.

    This leads  to a difficult question, though (at least in my country): What about teachers who feel the religious obligation to wear certain headpieces* or other religious symbols?

    *headscarf for female Moslems, turban for male Sikhs, pirate head for adherents of the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

  • EllieMurasaki

    I would say it’s fine as long as they’re not calling attention to it (which is the same justification by which I would allow cross necklaces), but the turban and the pirate hat are likely to call attention by their mere presence, and so might the headscarf depending on the frequency of headscarfs (for secular or sectarian reasons) in the local population.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which I hit send and then realize that could be taken as me not wanting to allow religious apparel from less common religions, which is not at all the intention. Cross necklaces are background noise, turbans are not, which is a problem, is where I was going with that.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Supreme Court “In God We Trust” is nonreligious

    Now I know they put something in the water over at the SupCt.

    My reaction to that decision? http://jpegy.com/images/uploads/2012/09/hahahaha-no-cat.jpg

  • Tricksterson

    Not a legal scholar but my own guess would be on the first question that have a calendar on her desk would be fine if she didn’t read it aloud every day to the class.

    On the second question, the inability to reconcile verybody’s religious views is exactly why they’re all excluded.

    Any actual legal scholars out there feel free to correct me.

  • Tricksterson

    Nowadays?  I think as soon as you have any organized religion you’re going to have this right from the beginning and unfortunately those types tend to be ones who rise to the top.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, it’s called ‘Scalia’.

    Wait, no, Aronow v United States was a 1970 case in the Ninth Circuit that the Supreme Court declined to hear appeal and Scalia was appointed to the Court in 1986. Oops. Sorry.

  • Photon

    Cross necklaces are background noise, turbans are not, which is a problem, is where I was going with that.

    I agree that it is a problem. But I think it would be a bigger problem to forbid them. This is a big issue in Europe and it varies form countries who allow everything (UK) over countries who forbid everything (Turkey, France) to some German states who openly privilege Christians and openly deny this privilge to Moslems.
    Which leads me to think that it is better to allow it for every religion and only act if there is evidence that a teacher is abusing this freedom.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     So… they should be forbidden? Observant muslims, sikhs and pastafarians should be forbidden from public office?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Didn’t I just say in the next comment that no they should not?

  • P J Evans

     Turbans and headscarfs stop being a problem after a bit, since they’re pretty much just another piece of clothing.

  • Mary

    I don’t know what the law says, but I think there should be a difference between displaying your personal religious affliation and promoting it, especially when it involves a religious requirement. I don’t think that people should have to hide their religious beliefs. They just shouldn’t evangelize. 

    Of course in real life it is difficult to put that into practice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

     I just want to applaud your dedication; listening to Christian talk radio can’t be easy!

  • Water_Bear

    I’m mostly surprised people are still surprised by this kind of stuff. I was in high school not a few years back, in a pretty diverse liberal area, and we still had to say “under God” every day in the pledge* and had a small squadron of kids and teachers praying around the flag-pole every morning. And our football team was the “Indians,” complete with goofy  hilariously racist logo. It’s not like this kind of thing only happens out in Alabama, even in the blue states we have to deal with this shit.

    *What the heck ever happened to that guy who was trying to get the pledge amended  Did he finally run out of money or has he just fallen off the news radar?

  • EllieMurasaki
  • Steve Morrison

    And wasn’t there a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court,
    regarding a cross in a national park, where the court held that the
    cross was OK because it wasn’t really a religious symbol?

    You’re probably thinking of the Mojave Memorial Cross and the case of Salazar v. Buon; Scalia did deny that the cross could be understood to preferentially honor the Christian war dead. (The Friendly Atheist has some posts about it; unfortunately I have trouble posting links with Disqus.)

  • Steve Morrison

     Aaaagh! The case was Salazar v. Buono.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I’d really be a bit more lenient in when the teacher isn’t a representative of the state (/school). The best conversations I’ve ever had with teachers is when they were speaking as private individuals, with opinions that would have gotten them in trouble with the hoity-toity private school I attended. These were often after class, but also during my lunch breaks as I was a sad child and had very few friends my own age. 

    I’d have no problem with a teacher privately counseling a student or two and sharing their religion during breaks/after school, in the same way my Spanish teacher would share her extreme anti-capitalist and anti-US intervention in Central America (that should date me) views with me over lunch and after school. 

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    And wasn’t there a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court, regarding a cross in a national park, where the court held that the cross was OK because it wasn’t really a religious symbol?

    While there are a load of cases regarding such thinges (especially big crosses), I think you may be thinking of the Mount Soledad cross?

    That IS the argument: “No, it’s a war memorial,” but it hasn’t been upheld as legitimate by any courts. Peter Irons wrote a cool book on the whole subject, which actuallly has the Soledad cross on the cover.

    EDIT: nevermind. I think Steve Morrison is correct, I remember that case as well. I have a semi-masochistic/trainwreck-morbid fascination with Establishment Clause cases.

  • Lori

     

    But what do I do when a Christian student is trying to use my faith to argue against abortion in a debate class?  

    The thing is, unless the student says “According to Kirala’s religion” then the student is using his/her faith to argue against abortion, not yours. I understand why that can be awkward when you and the student share the same basic faith, but I think great care still needs to be taken in arguing against it, even privately. It would be all too easy for the student to get the impression that you’re grading his/her theology instead of their argument construction and presentation.

    I think there are acceptable ways to note in class when an argument is religions in nature and that people’s religious views vary, even within a given religion. I don’t think it’s a good idea to say anything to a student that could possibly smack of “I’m right about our shared religion and you’re wrong” or “Your argument is inappropriate because I disagree with it”.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    This is why the separation of church and state is vitally important for Christians. When Christians are standing around arguing that Jesus Christ  has no particular religious significance to us, then something has gone horribly wrong.

    Well, yes. But this is not unique to the establishment clause. This is more generally true of any situation where a religion claims cultural hegemony or political power. The non-sectarian realities of culture and government will necessarily start to be seen as part of the religion, even by its practitioners. Which, unless the important parts of the religion just happen to coincide perfectly with the demands of cultural hegemony, will distort the important parts of the religion.

    In this vein, I have often said about Judaism that one of the best things that ever happened to it was the destruction of the Temple.

    In fact, now that I think about it, it’s not unique to religion. Any philosophy, even secular philosophies, will become distorted to the extent that they become hegemonic within a culture, unless they happen to already be hegemonic philosophies that align perfectly with cultural norms (in which case what use are they?).

  • KevinC

     My guess is, the RTC’s see it like this:  The sectarian tribal markers (pics of Jesus, Nativity scenes, Ten Commandment plaques, etc.) are [supposed to be] “unimportant” because, since this is their country, such things ought to be just part of the background, like American flags in front of every public building and flag lapel pins on politicians.  It’s only when somebody tries to change the background to accommodate anybody but them, that–ERMAHGHERD!  SocialistIslamicAtheistCommieNazis!  We gotta Take This Country Back!

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     It’s not clear to me what your follow-up was saying. Something like “No, I don’t mean to oppress minority religions. So long as those minority religions agree to not require adherents to wear anything ‘intrusive’”?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     There’s the confounding factor that there’s a lot of places where any attempt to cover or obscure your face is taken as evidence that you are Up To No Good. (There’s a bank near where I used to live with a sign on the door saying that you had to remove any hats or head-or-face-coverings inside so that the security cameras could get a good look at you. Seems like that is like five different lawsuits waiting to happen.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    I do not see how I can forbid the wearing of headscarfs by female Muslim teachers unless I also forbid the wearing of cross necklaces by Christian teachers. (Which I would like to do but am not stupid enough to try.) If the headscarf teacher keeps drawing attention to the fact that she is wearing the headscarf because she is Muslim, that is a reason to ban her from wearing the headscarf. The Christian teacher keeping drawing attention to the fact that she is wearing the cross because she is Christian, that is a reason to ban her wearing from the cross. The headscarf is going to get more attention than the cross regardless of what their respective wearers do; that is not a reason to ban the headscarf or the cross.

  • MaryKaye

    My Moslem students wear headscarves and my Sikh colleague wears a turban, and after a very short while you just stop noticing–it’s just what those people wear, just like I wear caftans and science-geek t-shirts.  I think we should be able to make space for people to wear what they want, including religious things.  If we could get rid of the cases in which religion really is being used as a tool of dominion, one paradoxical result would be that we could be a lot calmer about religious garb because it wouldn’t be such a threat.

  • Dan Audy

    I’m not sure that religious signifiers ever become just another piece of clothing though having them be more common does make them seem less intrusive but they still remain cultural signifiers as much as wearing a super-tight muscle shirt or a LOL-Cat shirt does.  It places you into a group because we use clothing as a major means of self-identifying and maintaining group cohesion.

    I had a really hard time explaining this to my daughter when she decided that she wanted to start wearing stylish headscarves like one of her friends did.  To her it was just a different pretty piece of clothing but before we allowed her to do so we felt she needed to understand what sort of message other people would be reading from her choice and accept how people would treat her differently as a result.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    I’m not sure that religious signifiers ever become just another piece of clothingthough having them be more common does make them seem less intrusive but they still remain cultural signifiers as much as wearing a super-tight muscle shirt or a LOL-Cat shirt does. 

    My mother swears up and down that cross necklaces became non-religious in the 1990s, that she read interviews with (or heard personally from?) people who had no idea what they stood for but just like how they look.
    I still think she got a mistaken impression of how widespread this is or could be. And yes, in the U.S.But then it was part of a much longer conversation about how Christians are “almost always” portrayed negatively in most fictional media. Which I found a mind-boggling claim, but one shared by most Christians I know (and generally most of the ones I actually have conversations with that include sociological, political, or religious matters like that are not the sort you’d be heavily disinclined to discuss those matters with if you’re reading here). Still, it meant I didn’t hold her to the specifics of this for long, as it was only one point in an overarching discussion.

    I don’t know–I still can’t imagine this is anything like a significant group, even as she took it as sign to assume nothing about the religious beliefs of anyone wearing a cross from then on (thus the context: “Even if a character is shown wearing a cross?” “Not everyone wears a cross because they are a Christian!”)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    This leads to a difficult question, though (at least in my country): What about teachers who feel the religious obligation to wear certain headpieces* or other religious symbols?

    I say completely legit–it should absolutely be OK.

    That said, I live in a country with neither a state religion nor a constitutional separation between church and state, and I’m pretty relaxed about individual displays of religious association in general. But I think that attempts to ban headscarfs, in particular, are wrong from a whole bunch of different angles.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And wasn’t there a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court, regarding a cross in a national park, where the court held that the cross was OK because it wasn’t really a religious symbol?

    Gotta say, I find this line of argument wildly offensive–to Christians and non-Christians alike.


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