Fortunately I don’t live in an area that has gang issues (unless you count my older daughter and the band of Snoopys that reside on her bed who can potentially seem menacing, I suppose, during a 3 am bed check). Which is why it’s hard for me to understand why a little girl in Omaha has been forbidden from wearing a rosary necklace due to gang activity in her area.
Twelve-year-old Elizabeth Carey told an ABC News affiliate that her school adopted a policy of banning rosary necklaces because they had become popular pieces of jewelry with gangsters.
Carey used to wear the rosary with a cross T-shirt and a cross bracelet so she could think of “how Jesus died on the cross and how he gave up all his sins for us.”
The school is defending the ban, arguing that despite Carey’s peaceful intentions to simply express her faith, the no rosary policy is meant to protect students.
“We had information from law enforcement that there were documented instances of gang activity in the area and we had information that states that the rosary was being used as a symbol of gang affiliation,” Sexton told KETV.
As it turns out, Nebraska isn’t alone; gangs in Oregon, Arizona and Texas apparently also use rosaries as identification symbols.
However, I’m with the Omaha Catholic Archdiocese Chancellor, Rev. Joseph Taphorn, on this. He also thinks that people of the Christian faith should not have to abstain from showing their faith if it means so much to them. While I think school safety is paramount, self and religious expression are no small matter, either.
Is there not a way to vet whether a student is in a gang, and therefore allowed to wear a rosary? Is it really necessary to ban such a symbolically important piece of jewelry outright? It seems rash and unfair to tell all students that they have to refrain from public displays of faith because some have abused a powerful and meaningful symbol.
Do you think the school is right in banning rosaries outright, or do you think they could allow them on a case-by-case basis?
Did schools go overboard with these bans?