Crosses in classrooms

European Court of Human Rights rules crucifixes are allowed in state schools
Strasbourg judgment overturns 2009 ruling that crucifixes violate secular principles, calling them an 'essentially passive symbol'

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that crucifixes are acceptable in the continent's state school classrooms, describing them as an "essentially passive symbol" with no obvious religious influence. In its judgment, handed down in Strasbourg, the court found that while the crucifix was "above all a religious symbol" there was no evidence that its display on classroom walls might have an influence on pupils.

The ruling reverses their earlier, unanimous decision from 2009 in favour of a Finnish-born mother who said that state schools in the Italian town of Abano Terme, where she lives, refused to remove the Roman Catholic symbols from classrooms.

Soile Lautsi said the crucifix violated the secular principles that state schools were meant to uphold. The court agreed, saying children were entitled to freedom of religion and that although "encouraging" for some pupils, the crucifix could be "emotionally disturbing for pupils of other religions or those who profess no religion".

It said the state had an obligation "to refrain from imposing beliefs, even indirectly, in places where persons are dependent on it or in places where they are particularly vulnerable".

But the decision caused uproar in some European countries, especially Italy, which argued that the cross was a symbol of the continent's cultural and historic roots.

Their interventions led to the grand chamber of 17 judges overturning the 2009 ruling. In their judgment they observed that "a crucifix on a wall was an essentially passive symbol whose influence on pupils was not comparable to that of didactic speech or participation in religious activities."

They added there was nothing to suggest that "the [Italian] authorities were intolerant of pupils who believed in other religions, were non-believers or who held non-religious philosophical convictions." Nor was there evidence that the presence of a crucifix had "encouraged the development of teaching practices with a proselytising tendency".

Italy's foreign minister, Franco Frattini, welcomed the verdict, declaring that "popular sentiment in Europe" had won.

All countries that are members of the Council of Europe will be required to obey the ruling.

Source: Guardian

Do you agree with the court ruling?


Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Hi Graham !!

I read this article, and I agree with European Court of Human Rights, because for catholics crucifixies are an "active" symbol, but for other religions and for no-believers people are a passive symbol.

Graham said…
You HAVE READ IT, Agatha.

And do you agree with the ruling?
Graham said…
Hi Felix!

I agree. I think it's a sensible decision.

Maybe you are the right person to explain something to me:

I can understand why people make the sign of the cross when they enter and exit a church (someone told me that it was like saying hello and goodbye to God)

Why do many footballers make the sign of the cross at the start of the match or when they score a goal? Do they think that God can intervene in a match? :-)

I agree with THE European Court of Human Rights, because for Catholics crucifixies are an "active" symbol, but for other religions and for NON-BELIEVERS, THEY are a passive symbol.
Montse said…
Hi, Graham. I don’t agree with the court ruling. I think that religion must be something personal. All states should be nondenominational. The religious education must be into the churches or mosques but never at schools. I think that religious beliefs have done a lot of damage throughout History, specially the Catholic one. And after this, what’s the matter about girls who wear veil in the classes?
Graham said…
You make a good point too, Montse.

It wouldn't put me up or down if there was a cross in the classroom or a schoolgirl with a veil.

As well as doing a lot of damage, religious beliefs must have done good.

I was having a discussion the other day about Spanish attitudes to religion. I get the impression that there is strong resentment towards the Catholic Church. I was told because its after so many years of misuse of power.

People tend not to have such strong feeling towards religions in the UK.

Religious education must be IN CHURCHES or mosques but never IN schools. I think that religious beliefs have done a lot of damage throughout History, ESPECIALLY the Catholic one. And after this RULING, what's the matter WITH girls who wear A VEIL in CLASS?
Montse said…
Hi, Graham. I have a question. What’s the difference between ESPECIALLY and SPECIALLY?
Graham said…
Hi Montse,

"especially the Catholic one": here it is like "particularly".

There is a post on the difference between "specially" and "especially" under the label: Confusing Words. (28th Sept 2009)