Comments: more about crucifixes in Italian schools

"The European Project"? Which is what?
Odd that a Finn would object: a country with a flag made up of a cross and not one but two established churches, which get money from the state not only for buildings of historical interest but to pay their clergies. Did she move hoping to find total separation of church and state in another part of Europe?

Posted by NixonisLord at Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 10:38pm GMT

"One Shia Muslim girl I know was not allowed as a child to walk through much of the Victoria and Albert Museum, because to do so would expose her to Christian symbolism"

- Andrew Brown @ C.I.F. belief -

And this is not so silly as it sounds. I know of Christian fundamentalists who have advised fellow Christians to get rid of their Bhudda door-stop, because of their fear of spiritual contagion!

Symbols can be very powerful objects - especially in the hands of fundamentalists - of any religion. What can be a legitimate object of devotion to one person, can be an object of scorn or ridicule to another.

This is precisely why we need to be more open about one another's religious signs and symbols - respecting them, without prejudice.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 11:13pm GMT

I must disagree with Andrew Brown about 'common sense' and 'fanatics'. The State is completely separate from the RC church or any other church in Italy - in law if not always in practice. Taxes paid by everyone support state schools which are not supposed to have any church affiliation. Churches may have their own schools paid for by their own faithful, but state schools are for everyone. After the unification of Italy and until Mussolini made his (useful) compromise with the RC Church (so as to have to have church backing - he did have to marry his wife of many years in church, but then that was surely a small price to pay) there were no crucifixes in Italian state schools. And I don't really think of myself as a fanatic, but there is an very ancient community of Jews in Italy, a pre-Reformation community which joined the Reformation, a large community of Muslims, many agnostics and atheists, as well some very religious Christians (I might be one) who feel that using crucifixes in public places (not only schools but also hospitals, post offices, and public administration offices) is blasphemous. Do they all count as fanatics?

Posted by Sara MacVane at Friday, 25 March 2011 at 9:25am GMT

Sara MacVane, I am perfectly happy to accept that there are people who dislike the widespread public displays of crucifixes in Italy, and that in some cases this dislike is reasonable and well-founded. Politics is full of clashes like that, and in a democratic country you can vote for a party which promises to do something about it.

What I have argued against is the proposition that this is violation of the opponents' *human rights*, and that the remedy for the situation is not political but an appeal to the ECHR. It is that claim which I describe as fanatical.

Posted by Andrew Brown at Friday, 25 March 2011 at 3:58pm GMT

Being an American, this debate drives me up the wall. Here in the US we are legally forbidden to display innocuous, cultural religious symbols on public property. But, as the most religious affluent Western nation in the world, we support the socially conservative "values" of evangelical Christians and will not elect anyone to high political office unless he professes religious belief and ends all speeches with "God bless America."

Posted by H. E. Baber at Friday, 25 March 2011 at 6:27pm GMT


I don't remember if you linked to Professor Joseph Weiler's (an American Orthodox Jew) June 30 testimony before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, on behalf of the nations that intervened in favour of Italy against Ms. Soile Lautsi, regarding the exposition of crucifixes in public schools in Italy.

Posted by Chip at Saturday, 26 March 2011 at 12:03am GMT

@Andrew Brown: Laws are made by majorities, whereas often we need to make sure that minorities have their rights protected. Maybe it is because I am an American informed by the civil rights movement, but without Brown v the school board of Topeka Kansas, we would never have had a Black president. When his parents married, half the states in the USA prohibited marriage between blacks and whites (whatever those non-definitions meant to the people in power). I think it is often judicial decisions based on constitutional claims which guarantee civil rights, not majority votes in favour of single laws.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Saturday, 26 March 2011 at 9:56am GMT

I think it is often judicial decisions based on constitutional claims which guarantee civil rights, not majority votes in favour of single laws.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Saturday, 26 March 2011 at 9:56am GMT

What an important point this is.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 28 March 2011 at 5:08pm BST
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