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← School crucifixes 'do not breach human rights'

School crucifixes 'do not breach human rights' - Comments

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 1 by Stevehill

I guess we need to just write off Italy and move on. Also this week, Italy has removed a Jewish judge who objected to crucifixes in Italian courtrooms. This from the NSS "Newsline" today:

Lautsi verdict due as secularist judge is sacked

The judgment in the Lautsi case will be given this afternoon by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Grand Chamber (see the NSS website for latest news). The case revolves around the presence, by law, of crucifixes in every classroom in Italy.

The Lautsis, complained that they did not want their children to be educated in such a blatantly sectarian atmosphere. The European Court upheld their complaint, but Italy appealed and now the matter will finally be settled by the Grand Chamber of the Court at 2pm British time.

Coincidentally, an Italian judge who refused to work in a court room where a crucifix was hanging was this week finally drummed out of the judiciary by the country's Supreme Court.

Judge Luigi Tosti had argued that religious symbols should not be present in a court room, but given that the crucifix was there because the law demands it, he said that other religious symbols should also be present. He asked that the Jewish symbol be permitted alongside the crucifix, given that he is Jewish himself.

On this point, the Supreme Court judges reasoned that "it is true that in theory the principle of secularism is compatible both with a model of assimilation upwards to allow each person to see symbols of their religion represented in public places, and with a model of downward assimilation."

Such is the overwhelming power of the Catholic Church in Italy, that any idea of equality of religions is unthinkable. The court, as if reading from a Vatican script, stated categorically that the presence of a crucifix doesn't threaten the religious freedom of those who aren't Christian and therefore Judge Tosti could not justify his stance. He was therefore removed from the judiciary.

Judge Tosti refused to work even when the crucifix was removed from his own courtroom, as he was asking for the crucifixes to be removed from all courtrooms.

Incidentally, one of the NSS correspondents, a former editor of Freethinker magazine, points out that crucifixes were imposed on Italian classrooms in the 1920s as part of the process whereby the Mussolini government appeased Catholicism in the hope that it would look the other way about the rise of fascism...

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:13:21 UTC | #604437

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 2 by alaskansee

I would like to see more actually, perhaps a rack, thumb screws, straps & belts, white hot pokers and maybe something more contemporary like a battery, wet towel and some cables. If we could also leave some of the bloods and guts on them it might make the kids work a bit harder too.

I do of course object to the cross on it's own but if we can have balance.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:29:12 UTC | #604442

PrimeNumbers's Avatar Comment 3 by PrimeNumbers

Italy under the Vatican's thumb.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:29:24 UTC | #604444

helena!'s Avatar Comment 4 by helena!

Comment 2 by alaskansee I would like to see more actually, perhaps a rack, thumb screws, straps & belts, white hot pokers and maybe something more contemporary like a battery, wet towel and some cables. If we could also leave some of the bloods and guts on them it might make the kids work a bit harder too.

I think that's a great idea. Why have them so bland - put some reality into them. Make it lifelike to get the full effect.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:31:54 UTC | #604445

dac74's Avatar Comment 5 by dac74

Surely nothing enables learning better than an image of a man being slowly tortured to death? Helps stimulate the mind!

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:32:20 UTC | #604446

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 6 by Peter Grant

@Stevehill

Great post, but since when has fascism ever had to appease Catholicism? It's a bit like apartheid and the Dutch Reform Church.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:34:57 UTC | #604448

GermanHumanist's Avatar Comment 7 by GermanHumanist

it is also worth noting who has been involved in bringing this about. Among the NGO's which issued opinions to the court in the run-up to this new verdict, we find the European Center for Law and Justice, a Christian-Right evangelical organization that is closely tied to the American Center for Law and Justice, founded by none other than Pat Robertson.

It's not just about this verdict. We are being overrun in Europe by America's Christian Right.

Don't believe it? Read this article:

http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=tomorrow_the_world

After years of isolation from the world, America's Christian right began, roughly a decade ago, to engage internationally. It started with the United Nations, which Christian conservatives feared would establish progressive international norms on reproductive rights, gay rights, cloning, and other issues.

[...

What started at the U.N. has now expanded. Many of the issues are the same, but the battle has swung to Europe and Canada. "Christian groups now see Europe as the crossroads, the main venue for conflict, replacing the U.N.," says Allan Carlson, founder of the World Congress of Families, a network of conservatives.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:35:21 UTC | #604449

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 8 by Stafford Gordon

I don't think it's very nice to have some guy nailed to a lump of wood hanging on the wall.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:45:47 UTC | #604452

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 9 by Agrajag

Was it Dave Allen or George Carlin who said he knew the catholic schools took their maths education seriously when he saw the statue of the guy nailed to the plus sign? :-D
Steve

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:57:31 UTC | #604458

Tryphon Tournesol's Avatar Comment 10 by Tryphon Tournesol

Marvelous! Since it is now established that religious symbols on the wall don't influence easily influenceable children and that they just serve to defend values and identities, the Finnish mother can nail tHOR's hammer next to the zombie. Nail the controversy so to say.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 19:09:33 UTC | #604466

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 11 by Peter Grant

Comment 8 by Stafford Gordon

I don't think it's very nice to have some guy nailed to a lump of wood hanging on the wall.

Me either. Perhaps they wish their students to reflect fondly on the heady days of Roman Empire when all their enemies were dealt with thus.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 19:15:43 UTC | #604468

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 12 by Alan4discussion

There are plenty of crucifixes in Catholic "faith" schools in England too.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 19:18:08 UTC | #604470

Luke_B's Avatar Comment 13 by Luke_B

Comment 9 by Agrajag:

That's fucking awesome. Gave me a good chuckle. Cheers. It does remind me of Dave Allen but I'm not sure. Either way it's a classic.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 19:18:19 UTC | #604471

Distort's Avatar Comment 14 by Distort

the kicker is that this applies to all the the EU, not just Italy.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 19:26:42 UTC | #604475

Bisse's Avatar Comment 15 by Bisse

WTF !!?!?!?!?

I can taste vomit,,, It's just sickening!

Now I'm Really Getting Pissed Off!

Leave the kids alone,,,Please!!

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 19:45:37 UTC | #604481

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 16 by Alan4discussion

Comment 11 by Peter Grant

Me either. Perhaps they wish their students to reflect fondly on the heady days of Roman Empire when all their enemies were dealt with thus.

Wasn't there something about fighting enemies and crosses on the walls in Germany in the 1920s/1930s. I think they were black with little right-angle bits on the ends. - Must have been around the same time Mussolini arranged for crucifixes on walls in Italy.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 19:48:29 UTC | #604482

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 17 by ZenDruid

I believe that symbols of Minerva are far more appropriate for classroom and courtroom.

The 'dead radical on a stick' is a reminder to children of what happens when they buck the system, much worse than the Big Brother propaganda.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 19:58:12 UTC | #604488

Narvi's Avatar Comment 18 by Narvi

"The court ruled there was no evidence that a crucifix hung in a classroom would influence pupils."

If you don't think it will affect them, WHY would you hang it up!? It's meaningless!

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 20:01:57 UTC | #604491

DavePabian's Avatar Comment 19 by DavePabian

'Friday's decision was welcomed by Italy's foreign minister as a win for European "popular sentiment".'

That's a great precedent to set, just what we need in the 21st century. Wish we had more people like him here in the U.S., although we do have our fare share. But it would definitely solve a lot of problems if popular sentiment settled everything.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 20:23:29 UTC | #604498

CFM's Avatar Comment 20 by CFM

The court ruled there was no evidence that a crucifix hung in a classroom would influence pupils.

That is nonsense.

I grew up in Bavaria, where crucifixes are still to be found in most classrooms (we also have a school law which states that children should be raised to "revere God", and morning prayers are still said in most state schools, but these are other, if related, matters). Of course symbols, on their own, do not influence pupils. But they are part of a "culture" in which being Christian is presented to children as the default position. And this fact does of course influence pupils. It surely influenced me when I was a child. These crosses /crucifixes are symbols of hegemony, nothing less.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 20:54:32 UTC | #604513

foundationist's Avatar Comment 21 by foundationist

OK, let me try an interesting minority opinion. I think the decision of the court was right. I'm fundamentally opposed to crucifixes in classrooms, because I think it violates the separation of church and state if religious symbols are displayed in public buildings. However, I don't see how having a crucifix in the classroom is a violation of a human right. It's not indoctrination. There were crucifixes on the wall in the classrooms of two of the schools I attended, and they didn't brainwash me even one bit.

It's a tiny ornament in a corner, not a two-meter criucifix in the center of the front wall. They don't perform school prayer or have to clean it every day. That was the position of the judges as well.

I feel that the 'My religious feelings/sensitivities are hurt'-whinig is spiralling out of control all over Europe and usually the sentiment in this forum is pretty much along those lines as well. The only difference is that now it's atheists and secularists doing the whining.

I would be the first to welcome if Italy made the move to ban crucifixes from their classrooms as a statement for the religious neutrality of the state and the secular nature of the education system. But the thought that anybodys human rights are violated, or that somebody is discriminated by a little ornament on the wall, however garstly it is, is belittling the concepts of human rights and discrimination, which are too important concepts to be instrumentalized, even in the much needed fight for a more secular Europe.

Oh, and

Comment 14 by Distort :

the kicker is that this applies to all the the EU, not just Italy.

Not just the EU. It's a common misconception that the ECHR is a EU institution, but actually its jurisdiction is all in all 47 countries, including Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey etc.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 21:09:11 UTC | #604521

Aztek's Avatar Comment 22 by Aztek

There has been quite a lot of talk about this case here in Finland, since the mother is Finnish-born. I was appalled by the decision (naturally), but it wasn't a surprise. Justice is supposed to be blind, but in a case like this the court clearly had a glance at political sensibilities. Despite the court already ruled against the crucifixes once, there was no way the decision was going to be upheld. Too many people who might get angry.

Oh, and there are many people over here who have expressed their gratitude for the decision on news forums. Not because we have Catholics over here because we don't (the number is minimal), but because of all the old tired arguments, all of them fallacies: It is a tradition; it is a "Catholic country"; there are many Catholics in Italy: Atheists are just bullying people again; if Muslims are allowed to have mosques, we should have crucifixes; believers are being persecuted again; crucifixes are so harmless, kids aren't going to be affected by them; "I'm not a Catholic, but I still believe in a god therefore I defend Cahtolics' right to have their crucifixes"; if Atheists are so worried about children being labelled according to the religion they were born into, why don't they demand the right for people to choose their nationality or language they want to learn...

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 22:21:48 UTC | #604549

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 23 by DocWebster

Comment 15 by Bisse :

WTF !!?!?!?!?

I can taste vomit,,, It's just sickening!

Now I'm Really Getting Pissed Off!

Leave the kids alone,,,Please!!

They can't, without kids they have nothing. No more church, No more faithful, No more clergy, it all just dies away with time. If we took the children away from all the religions until they were adult enough to decide on their own, we wouldn't have religion in a hundred years and they know it.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 22:46:06 UTC | #604553

old-toy-boy's Avatar Comment 24 by old-toy-boy

Sorry guys, (and gals). I really do not think that this is such a problem. A minor religious symbol will give some familiarity to some and ignored by others. Let us not blow it out of proportion, Perhaps a little atheist tolerance would be appropriate?

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 22:50:13 UTC | #604556

reebus's Avatar Comment 25 by reebus

This is quite incredible, pure advertising technique (subliminal advertising?). If the school walls are plastered with pictures of cigarette packets, is the court so naive to think they will never become smokers? Are children not so inquisitive as to ask what the picture is about and so be unnecessarily distracted from study? Do children look at walls or not? Won't the children wonder why with all the possible things that could go on the wall, it is displaced by a packet of poison?

If the country wants to identify with their history, why dont' they put pictures of Galileo, Enrico Fermi and associated symbolism up? But an ancient deification of state torture to emphasise the priority of the state in a schoolroom?

Next thing, the priests will be asking the kids if they want to come up to their little room in the vestry and see their cruxifix collection.

Cover the walls with schoolwork, science, music, equations and art, not ignorance and then children will grow up not ignorant.

But it doesn't surprise me that UKIP thinks its the right decision to stress the inequalities of the past in modern identity; and they cynically know that any increase of potential conflict in the EU furthers their isolationist agenda.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 23:05:12 UTC | #604559

Pitchguest's Avatar Comment 26 by Pitchguest

Maybe it's a bit off-topic, but I've always wondered about the imagery of a cross or a crucifix. The crucifix is one of the most revered symbols in Judaism, is it not? And isn't it also Judaism who awaits the coming Messiah, whenever he/she/it should return? In Christianity, the second coming of Christ is even more telling: wishing for their saviour, Jesus Christ, to return to earth and lead them to salvation.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the absolute last thing he would like to see upon returning to earth another cross, or worse, people idolising crosses?

Just a thought. Anyway, carry on.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 23:29:32 UTC | #604567

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 27 by Stevehill

I dunno, cradle of the Renaissance, and they waste valuable wall space with this shit, compared to what they could display...

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 23:39:48 UTC | #604572

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 28 by Rich Wiltshir

If we can all agree on Richard's "A" as symbolic of atheism, "H" for humanism and "S" for secularism wherever there's an alphabet..... We just need to raise the profile some more!

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 23:54:04 UTC | #604577

reebus's Avatar Comment 29 by reebus

If a child ignores a symbol of ignorance because ignorant adults decide they will do that, is the child still ending up learning ignorance; or if they do notice a symbol of ignorance, won't they be drawn into ignorance; and so either way, completing the cycle to ignorant adulthood to continue the issuance of ignorance?

So they continually cultivate a blind spot. In a war or other hazard it will be easy to dispose of them, just come at them in the shape of a cross, they'll never see the danger.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 23:57:05 UTC | #604580

Ivan The Not So Bad's Avatar Comment 30 by Ivan The Not So Bad

According to the British Humanist Association, the Italian government made the remarkable claim that:

"......the crucifix has "an ethical meaning [that] evoked . . . non-violence, . . . the primacy of the individual over the group and the importance of freedom of choice, the separation of politics from religion. . . [carrying] a humanist message which could be read independently of its religious dimension . . . it was perfectly compatible with secularism and . . . could be perceived as devoid of religious significance"

Jesus Christ!

British Humanist Association

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 00:07:55 UTC | #604583