25 May 2010

Wearing the Rosary in School?

So this kid wore a rosary to school, and the principal wants us to know that violated an unwritten school rule. Young Jason Laguna "endangered the safety, health, morals or welfare of himself or others" by being a Jesus Freak, Catholic style in class. (Hat tip: nightfly)

I've got to be honest with you here: most of my family is Catholic, but I don't really "get" a lot of these traditions because I wasn't raised learning the catechism and attending mass. But see, if I were the principal of a school where people were starting to wear the Rosary, I'd have to get some basics down about it so I could see whether this is a central thing or just a religious trapping along the lines of virginity bracelets or purity rings are for some Protestants. (Their rights are hardly violated if you were to ask them to remove these things during school hours, I think.)

And it's pretty central if several popes say it is (from a cursory glance at the ol' wikipedia):

"Most recently, on May 3, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the Rosary is experiencing a new springtime: 'It is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother.'[4] To Benedict XVI, the rosary is a meditation on all important moments of salvation history.[4] Before him, Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae[5] built on the 'total Marian devotion' pioneered by Saint Louis de Montfort. Pope Pius XII and his successors actively promoted the veneration of the Virgin in Lourdes and Fatima, which is credited with a new resurgence of the rosary within the Catholic Church.[6]"

I don't doubt that gangs CAN use the rosary as some sort of identifier, just like they could use the colour purple with green dots if they wanted to. All those Barney fans in public school would just have to lump it, because it's perfectly reasonable for the school to put dress code rules into place. I myself am a bit suspicious of any show with unsupervised children and characters like "BJ" running around to begin with, so a Barney ban would probably be ok with me.

But seriously. They're going to suspend the kid for this? From the comments:

"This altar boy should know that the rosary is never to be used for jewelry or adornment. The kid himself said he wore it because it looked cool and not, it seems, for any misguided religious reason. It is true that the rosary has been hijacked in some areas as a gang sign and if that is the case in this area then notification should have been sent out warning kids and parents of that and other "signs" that might be misconstrued and therefore prohibited."

Ok... The American flag is never to be worn as clothing, technically, but we've all seen that happening in schools as well. We can't get all up into people's inner motives for wearing the flag or the rosary or anything else. The question is whether each article in question would be allowable under the umbrellas of general personal freedom or religious freedom (your pick). Sometimes they aren't.

I think we all "get" that we give up some of our "freedoms" when we go to public school. During the orchestra trip to China, it has been expressly stated that the 18-year-olds are NOT to purchase or consume alcohol at any time while they are away. It doesn't matter if it's legal there. If you want to go on this trip, you'll abide by the rules. Fair enough. But when we MUST be educated and we MUST (for whatever reason if we can't home/private school) send our children to public school, I believe the school and the parent and the student ought work together to be as reasonable as possible about things.

That means my children can't wear their tank tops to school. It's ok. But I hope they let this young man wear his rosary. He's still figuring himself out, figuring where he stands on everything to begin with. I think we should all give him the chance to do that.


  1. I think it is a violation of his religion and speeach rights. Unless they ban all symbols--peace signs, ankhs, ying-yangs, skulls and cross bones, rainbows, and all the rest (which I guess is fine if they really want to make that stand) it's unfairly targetting people who wear Christian symbols.

    And if they are avoiding anything gang related, they need to also ban clothing with the logos of sports teams, bandanas, etc.

    And no one should be suspended for violating and UNWRITTEN policy! That's just stupid.

  2. Could not have said it better myself Gombojav Tribe! Bans and/or tolerance only work if it is equally applied.

  3. Growing up Catholic, I was told to NEVER wear the rosary as a necklace; that's not appropriate use of it.

    Other than that, I agree with the talented and beautiful Daja. :)

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