Crucifixs can be hunged again in Italian schools

Displaying crucifixes in schools in Italy does not breach the rights of non-Catholic families, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

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

The ruling overturned a previous decision made in November 2009, which angered the Roman Catholic country.

Friday’s decision was welcomed by Italy’s foreign minister as a win for European “popular sentiment”.

“The decision underlines, above all, the rights of citizens to defend their own values and their own identities,” Franco Frattini said, according to Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper.

“I hope that following this verdict Europe will begin to examine issues of tolerance and religious freedom with the same courage,” he added.

‘Historic decision’

The Vatican too welcomed the decision. Its spokesman Federico Lombardi called it “an important and historic ruling”.

The original case was brought by a Finnish-born mother-of-two who said public schools in the Italian town where she lived refused to remove the Roman Catholic symbols from classrooms.

The hanging of crosses in public buildings is not compulsory in Italy but it is customary.

Soile Lautsi had argued that the crucifix violated the secular principles the public schools are supposed to uphold.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

Freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination, freedom of choice are fundamental principles and in this case they weren't respected”

End Quote Massimo Albertin Husband of Soile Lautsi

But the final decision by the Strasbourg-based court’s Grand Chamber said it found no evidence “that the display of such a symbol on classroom walls might have an influence on pupils”.

Her husband said the family was disappointed and “disillusioned” by the ruling, saying it showed that the court did not respect the principles on which Italian society is built.

“Freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination, freedom of choice are fundamental principles and in this case they weren’t respected,” Massimo Albertin told AP from the northern Italian town of Abano Terme.

Friday’s ruling focused on Italian public schools, and does not automatically force other countries to allow crucifixes in the public schools, according to the court.

But the ruling will affect all 47 Council of Europe member states as citizens in other countries who want religious symbols in classrooms could use it as a legal argument in national courts.

National governments could also the ruling as a justification to change laws on religious symbols.

In its earlier ruling the court had decided that the crucifix could be disturbing to non-Christian or atheist pupils.

Source: bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12791082

Well, I may have to take back some of the bad things I've said about the European Court of Human Rights on account of the original decision just thankfully overturned.

If Italy is indeed governed according to the principles of freedom of religion, non-discrimination, and freedom of choice, as is stated, in my view this is a clear violation of those governing principles. We are talking about public schools, not religious schools. The crucifix is a powerful symbol of Christian (in this case, Catholic) belief and might very well disturb non-Christian believers and atheists, both students and faculty. I’m not sure what the statement “it doesn’t influence them” means. It doesn’t influence them to convert? Being disturbed by the symbol is also an influence. Italy has the choice to defend the rights of the majority or the rights of all and in this ruling it has chosen to defend only the majority.

[quote="meltzerboy, post:3, topic:233149"]
If Italy is indeed governed according to the principles of freedom of religion, non-discrimination, and freedom of choice, as is stated, in my view this is a clear violation of those governing principles. We are talking about public schools, not religious schools. The crucifix is a powerful symbol of Christian (in this case, Catholic) belief and might very well disturb non-Christian believers and atheists, both students and faculty. I'm not sure what the statement "it doesn't influence them" means. It doesn't influence them to convert? Being disturbed by the symbol is also an influence. Italy has the choice to defend the rights of the majority or the rights of all and in this ruling it has chosen to defend only the majority.

[/quote]

The crucifix does not mean anything to an atheist so, in what way could a display of a crucifix be an attempt to convert? Conversion is a personal choice. Also, the crucifix is both a religious and a cultural symbol of Italy. This case was brought to the courts by a Finnish atheist who moved to Italy and wanted the cultural norms of the country to suit her views. The implication of "being disturbed by the symbol" would mean that European national flags will have to be re-designed so as not to offend the atheist.

I think you answered your own question. Because the crucifix does not mean anything to an atheist, it can be conceived as an attempt to convert. However, the ruling does not only apply to this specific case. If the crucifix is displayed, a non-Christian believer may be disturbed by its very presence as a symbol of Christianity. Suppose the situation were reversed. Your child goes to a public school in Italy and s/he is Catholic. Instead of a crucifix, a star of David is displayed prominently throughout the building, or a Muslim symbol, or the symbol of another religion. Would you or would you not be disturbed by the presence of a symbol that does not conform to your and your child’s religious faith? That is the issue at hand.

:thumbsup::thumbsup:

No, I would not be disturbed. Religious symbols don’t upset me, even if they are not my own. This is the problem I have with the extreme secularism expoused in the West. It presents people as uber-sensitive and, to be frank, not bright even to distinguish between a symbol of faith and an endorsement of religion, preferential treatment, and an attempt at conversion. The symbol is not nearly as important as how the school or government chooses to treat its religious minorities. If they are free to practice their faith without discrimination by the authorities, it makes no difference to me if the school or government chooses to display symbols of the dominant religion.

[quote="ChristIsTheWay, post:7, topic:233149"]
No, I would not be disturbed. Religious symbols don't upset me, even if they are not my own. This is the problem I have with the extreme secularism expoused in the West. It presents people as uber-sensitive and, to be frank, not bright even to distinguish between a symbol of faith and an endorsement of religion, preferential treatment, and an attempt at conversion. The symbol is not nearly as important as how the school or government chooses to treat its religious minorities. If they are free to practice their faith without discrimination by the authorities, it makes no difference to me if the school or government chooses to display symbols of the dominant religion.

[/quote]

I agree with you that how the government treats its religious minorities is more important than the symbolic issue. For example, I recall France's passing a law that forbade Muslim women from wearing the traditional burqa in public schools. In my opinion, this is an infringement on the practice of their religion. However, I do not think that the restriction regarding public display of religious symbols by the dominant religion of a country reflects extreme secularism or a negative view of its citizens' intelligence. Rather, I believe the issue is one of fairness and equality of religious practice toward all its citizens. I appreciate, however, your honest opinions on the topic.

And I appreciate your civility. :slight_smile:

[quote="meltzerboy, post:5, topic:233149"]
I think you answered your own question. Because the crucifix does not mean anything to an atheist, it can be conceived as an attempt to convert.

[/quote]

You misunderstood my question and overlooked what I stated after that. "Conversion is a personal choice".

However, the ruling does not only apply to this specific case.
If the crucifix is displayed, a non-Christian believer may be disturbed by its very presence as a symbol of Christianity.

I agree with you. The ruling applies to everyone who would complain about the display of the crucifix. Any complainant would be best advised to refer to the EHRC ruling that the crucifix is "essentially a passive symbol", does not just connote faith but also a national and cultural identity. If they are disturbed by that ruling, then it would be because they allow themselves to be disturbed by it. You also overlooked the implication I stated in my earlier post in respect of European national flags where many have the crosses.

Suppose the situation were reversed. Your child goes to a public school in Italy and s/he is Catholic. Instead of a crucifix, a star of David is displayed prominently throughout the building, or a Muslim symbol, or the symbol of another religion. Would you or would you not be disturbed by the presence of a symbol that does not conform to your and your child's religious faith? That is the issue at hand

No. It would not bother me a jot. The religious symbols would have an "essentially passive" element. It connotes faith to those it belongs to. To me, it would merely be a fixture.

I have an idea. Send the kiddies to private school if you want them to see the Crucifix.

Don’t demand that taxpayers pay for that intitlement.

:confused: Your suggestion is redundant since the court has already ruled on the matter.

[quote="Santi2, post:12, topic:233149"]
:confused: Your suggestion is redundant since the court has already ruled on the matter.

[/quote]

The court in Italy has ruled on a matter. This does not make my commentary redundant.

Intitlement programs for religion payed by the taxpayer must end. You can send your kiddies to private school, but don't expect me to pay for the crucifix in it that takes money away from science. You took enough of it away for too many years. Time to pay for your hobbies yourself.

It is redundant. Unless your personal interest in the matter is breached by the court ruling i.e. you are an Italian taxpayer, your commentary does not matter. If you are not an Italian taxpayer, then should the same issue arise in your country, you can raise your concerns about accountability on how your taxes are spent with your government. Your commentary had no purpose other than to offend. Your statement: “Time to pay for your hobbies yourself” is further proof of that.

[quote="Santi2, post:4, topic:233149"]
The crucifix does not mean anything to an atheist so, in what way could a display of a crucifix be an attempt to convert? Conversion is a personal choice. Also, the crucifix is both a religious and a cultural symbol of Italy. This case was brought to the courts by a Finnish atheist who moved to Italy and wanted the cultural norms of the country to suit her views. The implication of "being disturbed by the symbol" would mean that European national flags will have to be re-designed so as not to offend the atheist.

[/quote]

I agree 100% with what you said, That's my opinion on this subject as well. And, if she doesn't like Catholics, I'm sorry but why move to ITALY in the first place? :rolleyes:

[quote="StrawberryJam, post:13, topic:233149"]
The court in Italy has ruled on a matter. This does not make my commentary redundant.

Intitlement programs for religion payed by the taxpayer must end. You can send your kiddies to private school, but don't expect me to pay for the crucifix in it that takes money away from science. You took enough of it away for too many years. Time to pay for your hobbies yourself.

[/quote]

Religion is not the opposite of science! Many famous scientists were religious, Isaac Newton, for instance. I advise you to see the documentary "Expelled - No intelligence Allowed". And remember, in many countries (like Italy) most of the population is Catholic, that's why taxes pay for those. And remember, you are in a Catholic forum because you want to, there's no need to offend us.

[quote="APortuguesa, post:15, topic:233149"]
I agree 100% with what you said, That's my opinion on this subject as well. And, if she doesn't like Catholics, I'm sorry but why move to ITALY in the first place? :rolleyes:

[/quote]

I'm not sure one can assume she doesn't like Catholics based on her behavior. What she doesn't like is the insensitivity and unfairness of the government toward her religious beliefs, or rather, non-beliefs. That's not the same thing. And if Italy fancies itself a democracy, should its citizens be denied this right in the PUBLIC arena? Furthermore, there may be other things she likes about living in Italy. Are you suggesting that instead of living in a country one chooses to live in, people should segregate themselves based on the religious majority of that country? Perhaps in a theocracy, but not in a democracy, even one that is predominantly Catholic.

[quote="Santi2, post:10, topic:233149"]
You misunderstood my question and overlooked what I stated after that. "Conversion is a personal choice".

I agree with you. The ruling applies to everyone who would complain about the display of the crucifix. Any complainant would be best advised to refer to the EHRC ruling that the crucifix is "essentially a passive symbol", does not just connote faith but also a national and cultural identity. If they are disturbed by that ruling, then it would be because they allow themselves to be disturbed by it. You also overlooked the implication I stated in my earlier post in respect of European national flags where many have the crosses.

No. It would not bother me a jot. The religious symbols would have an "essentially passive" element. It connotes faith to those it belongs to. To me, it would merely be a fixture.

[/quote]

No, I don't believe I misunderstood your question. I believe you meant that since atheists don't believe in G-d, the crucifix would mean nothing to them; in other words, they would simply ignore it. In the sense that they don't believe in G-d, the crucifix would not have the same meaning as it has to a Christian. However, it may very well have a different meaning, that is, the meaning that the public institution is IMPOSING a religious symbol on them as non-believers. I don't think the original statement "it does not have any influence" is so much a matter of attempting to convert them, but more a matter of their being disturbed by a religious symbol they strongly dispute. I think you have a point about national flags that have crosses on them, which may also be unconstitutional in a democracy, even though it is also a cultural symbol. And I would apply the same standard to Israel, which is a democracy as well as regarded as a Jewish state, and whose national flag has a Star of David, since Christians and Muslims who live in Israel might be disturbed by that too. I reiterate that in private settings, such as private and religious schools, one should be allowed to display whichever religious symbols one likes, but NOT in public schools. For me, it's not a question of liking or disliking a particular religion; rather a question of fairness and respect to all religious beliefs and non-beliefs.

[quote="Santi2, post:14, topic:233149"]
It is redundant. Unless your personal interest in the matter is breached by the court ruling i.e. you are an Italian taxpayer, your commentary does not matter. If you are not an Italian taxpayer, then should the same issue arise in your country, you can raise your concerns about accountability on how your taxes are spent with your government. Your commentary had no purpose other than to offend. Your statement: "Time to pay for your hobbies yourself" is further proof of that.

[/quote]

I disagree that the previous poster's commentary is redundant. One is surely entitled to express an opinion about another country's practices. However, I strongly agree with you that the last sentence of the previous poster, particularly the use of the word "hobbies," is offensive to Catholics and Christians in general. Whether the basic intent of the whole commentary was to offend, I don't know, but that comment no doubt should have been expressed in a more civil manner.

[quote="StrawberryJam, post:13, topic:233149"]
The court in Italy has ruled on a matter. This does not make my commentary redundant.

Intitlement programs for religion payed by the taxpayer must end. You can send your kiddies to private school, but don't expect me to pay for the crucifix in it that takes money away from science. You took enough of it away for too many years. Time to pay for your hobbies yourself.

[/quote]

I appreciate that you hold the same view as I do albeit perhaps for different reasons. I hadn't even thought of the issue of fund allocation, which is also interesting. However, I think your use of the word "hobbies" in the last sentence may be offensive to Catholics (as well as other Christians), and it's also offensive to me because it is beyond the pale of civil discourse. Now, you perhaps didn't mean any harm, but I would suggest you tone it down. I am not a Forum Moderator, of course, and you might be thinking, why don't I mind my own business! My answer to that is I think it is my business since I would like to engage in honest discussion of this issue without having the thread closed down and you banned. I hope I didn't offend YOU.

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