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religious dress at a catholic school

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
My neighbour told me this story about her sons school:

My neighbours son goes to a private Catholic school. The school is from what i've heard quite hard to get into and a very good school.

Recently the parents of a muslim girl have been threatening to take the school to court for not allowing her to wear her headscarf.

the school argue that it is a Catholic school and teaches Catholic beliefs. I believe that parents have to sign something saying that they are Catholic or that they share the same beliefs or something in order for their child to go there.

The parents argue that it is their daughters right to wear the scarf.

The children in question are under 12 as the school only teaches children up to the age of 11/12 (year six). I *think* though not 100% sure a muslim girl does not have to cover her hair until she is 13 or reaches puberty. (i could be wrong about this).

Should the school allow religious dress even though it is a Catholic school and promotes the Catholic faith? The Catholic church subsidises the school funds and pays for a good chunk of the childrens education.

I would be interested to hear what people think.
post #2 of 28
The Constitution applies to how the government and governmental agencies treat the private citizen. It does not apply to private institutions which do not receive governmental funding. Private organizations can make their own rules. In a privately funded, Catholic school, there is no such thing as Freedom of Religion. It is up to them what is allowed and what isn't.
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
personally i think its insulting to the catholic children who didnt get into their school of choice.

i think any religious paraphnelia (spell?) that is not Catholic should be banned out of respect for the schools sponsers and beliefs.
post #4 of 28
I'd say it's up to the private/parochial school to decide. Head scarves are a bit tricky at the moment, because of the ban on them in French (and Turkish, BTW,) public schools, and the ban on them for faculty members in German public schools. Many Moslem activists are upset about it, and pushing even young girls to wear a head scarf.
I attended a RC high school, and there were several Eastern/Russian Orthodox, Jewish, and Hindu students. I don't recall religious symbols other than Catholic/Christian ones ever being an issue. The non-Catholic students were required to pay higher tuition, as their education wasn't subsidized by the Diocese. I'd like to know what the case is at the school in question.
post #5 of 28
I attended a Catholic school as a child also. I think it is an insult to the Catholic students and their parents who pay the tuition to let other religions be displayed.

If her parents want her to wear it, send her to another school.
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
The non-Catholic students were required to pay higher tuition, as their education wasn't subsidized by the Diocese. I'd like to know what the case is at the school in question.
if its not still a sore point i'll ask her when she gets back from Easter vaccation (they went to florida- again! lucky things...)

i just know the pta (parent teacher comitee) are really incensed by it as the concensus is all pupil should be Catholic.

we actually have quite a few muslims schools around here as the town i'm from is the most mulit-cultural in Europe. I dont see why she was not sent there.
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by maverick_kitten

we actually have quite a few Muslims schools around here as the town i'm from is the most mulit-cultural in Europe. I dont see why she was not sent there.
I wondered that myself. The situation might be different in a small town where the local Muslim school was a hotbed of radicalism, and the parents wanted to avoid political indoctrination, and the state school had a really bad reputation, but it's hard to imagine that situation in London.
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
the catholic school gets really good results and would open doors to a better quality of secondary school maybe?

though from what i've heard the muslims schools get good results too.

maybe because it was closer or it was to do with the school having a good name?

parents need to learn to respect school rules if the expect their children to so the same
post #9 of 28
Sure I suppose as a private institution one could impose their own rules but that does not make it morally right in my eyes to exclude people from other religion from attending the school.

I TOO went to a private Catholic school and they had NO problems with people of other faith. In fact during celebrations where there are prayers, the school made sure that the prayers did not just include Catholic ones but that it also got students from other religion such as Islam and Buddhist to lead the prayers. The only thing the school demands before you are admitted is that you take an entrance exam. Religion is not an issue.

Also, during religious studies, they offered two versions, one Catholic version and another version for the rest, which is like a study of all religion, their philosophy, history, etc.

Therefore as a result I believe that any school that adopts a policy based on religion to be one that has not only lost the true spirit of their religion, but also is a repudiation of the basic duty in society to educate the young and prepare them for the future.
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
the scholl is already heavily overscribed with a waiting list

i just think its unfair that non-catholic children who dont agree with the schools policies (dress policies) are admitted when others who actually want a religious education arent.

i dont think its morally wrong to have a school specifically for one religion. especially as it is church funded.
post #11 of 28
Tolerance, understanding and acceptance of another with a different viewpoint from one's own is a fundamental tenat of religions that many people seem to have forgotten along the way. Even though for a year or 2 there was only one muslim student, the school still let that student go up on stage to say the prayers and everyone respectfully kept silent.

Let us not forget that the Vatican's only directly funded university Bethlehem University comprises of over 60% muslim students. If the pope and the Vatican have no problems in accepting muslim students to a university they directly fund, I don't see the problem.

Given that this is UK, the position might be different from the US. Especially with the EU Convention on Human Rights, which has generated several rather interesting decisions recently. Look at the recent McDonald's litigation (McLibel case) whereby the courts decided that the party who was sued for defamation by McDonald was not fairly represented due to lack of legal aid funds in light of the huge resources available to McDonalds AND the EU court's obsession of a level playing field as seen in their Competition Policy(Anti-trust) decisions ranging from Microsoft to Boeing. I would argue just on the top of my head without actually looking into the law that adopting a policy that prevents a student from going to a good school that is nearby on the sole grounds of religion may offend the Convention.
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
my argument is that with society becoming more and more secular i would not begrudge any religion having a school which provides a relgious education.

this is a london school, there are pleanty of good schools around who do not have policies over relgion or relgious dress.

i believe that if you pick a school and sign a contract you must abide by its rules. you cant pick and choose which school policies you follow.
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
its like say i made a club for people who wanted to wear pink and you joined and wanted to wear blue.

if you dont agree with my policy join another club.
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by maverick_kitten
my argument is that with society becoming more and more secular i would not begrudge any religion having a school which provides a relgious education.

this is a london school, there are pleanty of good schools around who do not have policies over relgion or relgious dress.

i believe that if you pick a school and sign a contract you must abide by its rules. you cant pick and choose which school policies you follow.
Similarly, I have no problem with a school that provides religious education. BUT provision of religious education does not mean one has to exclude others of a different faith. As pointed out in my experience, there were many who got a religious education and they were not in anyway harmed by the school admitting people of a different faith or even allowing to take part in prayers.

As for contracts, well I know this is not exactly the focus of the thread but the assumption that one MUST abide by a contract is simply not true. For example, in the UK there is the Unfair Contract Terms Act that states one may not exclude liability in a contract as a result of personal injury due to negligence, among other things. Also if I recall correctly, the common law in England provides that one cannot have penalty clauses in contracts thus a clause that demands payment far and beyond damages caused as a result of the breach in contract could be void.
post #15 of 28
If I remember correctly my mother had to wear a head scarf in catholic school back in the 60's. If you go to europe women must cover thier heads to enter some churches. I don't see aproblem with it, but if you must be catholic to attend school, the parents should have known that. Unlike public schools, the private school can reserve the right to kick any student out for whatever reason. The parents might want to switch schools if they want the girl to wear a head scarf.
post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
maybe i'm just naive but why go to a school that doesnt cater for your relgious requirements then argue the policies?

especially when there are pleannty of other options availble.

the parents actions are upsetting a lot of people and causing resentment.

no matter what their legal rights are i believe that a Catholic school has a right to admit only Catholic pupils or atleast ones prepared to abide by their rules
post #17 of 28
I think there's a problem of perception here. Most of the people posting in this thread seem to be Americans, who are far less secular than Europeans, but have been raised with the idea of "separation of church and state". Despite all the turmoil regarding school prayer, abortion, euthanasia, the Ten Commandments displayed in public buildings, etc., there's still a very strong ecumenical tradition in the U.S., because the idea of "state" or "official" religions isn't p.c., due to the country's history as a haven for the religiously persecuted, such as the Puritans, Society of Friends, Anabaptists, or Jews. Just to give yet another example: I attended a Jesuit university in a Northeastern city with a large Jewish and immigrant population. We were required to take 9 theology credits, and mine were covered by "Comparative Religions", which focused on Eastern religions, "The Theology of Luther", and "The Historical Jesus", none of which covered Catholic doctrine. The university had a "resident" rabbi, and kosher food was served in the cafeteria, which was much appreciated by the Muslim students, too.
I don't believe that Americans are any less religiously bigoted than Europeans, but in general they seem less tolerant of political or judicial interference in or interpretation of religious matters. For example, I, and many of my American (and Canadian) friends here, can't understand the vehement reaction to a court's recent ruling that the Jehovah Witnesses in Berlin should be recognized as a religious community. Why does their status have to be argued in court? On the one hand, many may view the U.S. as a country of religious zealots, but on the other, they should keep in mind how many religions, including Christian Scientists, Jehovah's Witnesses, LDS (Mormons), and Scientology (generally not accepted as a religion in Europe) were "born in the USA", and have been accepted as religions.
I have a feeling that I'm rambling, but this is a very subjective topic, that it's difficult to do justice to.
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
i think there is a very thin line between discrimination and worshiping in your own way. (does that make sense?)

whilst you should have the right to go to any school you choose regardless of religion i think you should also have the right to worship and learn in an exclusivly relgious enviroment if you so choose.

i go to a catholic university which accepts all faiths but has a church on site with a priest and relgious advisors.

there is also the question again of challenging schools policies. it really irrates me that parents think they can bend and change the rules to fit their wants.
post #19 of 28
The parents are worked up because the school will not allow the child to wear her headscarf, right? That's what I read in the first post.

The school is a Catholic school. It did not refuse the child admission on the basis of her religion, though, being of a particular faith, it might have done, and, though we might disagree with that policy, it would still be their right as a private institution.

To me, all that admission guarantees to a person of another faith is that she/he is not being denied the education/resources the school has to offer. That the school does not want any visible reminder that this child is of a different faith is unfortunate, narrow minded, short sighted, and in any number of ways a sad commentary on its general educational philosophy -- for all its students. But as a private institution, whose expectation is that the only faith to be practised on its premises is Catholicism, the wearing of the headscarf, being part of Muslim practice, would go against such an expectation -- and I guess they are entitled to stick their heads in the sand in this way, especially if they have made this expectation clear.

However, if it is true that this particular aspect of the Muslim faith is not required of girls until some point in their lives past when this child will attend the school, then insistence on it on the part of the parents is inappropriate: as long as the headscarf is optional, there's no faith-based reason they cannot comply.
post #20 of 28
Excellent assessment, rapunzel.
post #21 of 28
I went to a catholic school and we were allowed to pratice different faiths outside of school but we had religion classes and had to go to attend catholic services during school hours. But I find that a lot of times parents who are afraid to have their children in public schools will place them in a private school and at least around here catholic schools are the only alternative. So maybe the parents are scared that being muslim will make a public school a dangerous environment for the girl. I can understand that and also understand being proud of their religion. It's just a sticky situation. I would home school her and say screw the system.
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
but we do have muslim schools around here that she could have gone to.

it just puzzles me why they want to upset so many people by placing her there and arguing the rules.

to me its pretty clear cut

Catholic school = Catholic pupils. Catholic faith
Islamic school = Muslim pupils. Muslim faith

then there are pleanty of public/private school which are not church/relgion based.
post #23 of 28
oh. there aren't muslim schools where I live. There are only public or catholic. No choice. I understand it then.
post #24 of 28
Thread Starter 
its a good school as the church put so much funding in so they have really good resources and really good teachers.

i guess the parents wanted to take advantage of the good points but not follow the relgion.

it wouldnt be a problem if the school didnt mind but the parents should accept the ruling or move their child out
post #25 of 28
One thing that does not seem to be clear from the postings is, does the school have a policy excluding people of other faith or it allows them to join but have a school dress code that prevents the wearing of headscarf.

Finance: When is a private school private?
If I recall, in the UK, there are various levels of private schools. Religious schools may seem private but they receive a significant amount of funding from the state. So one question is whether this school in question is a true private school with zero governmental contributions or is assisted by the government. Which of course leads to the question of whether is it right for a school that accepts governmental funding to adopt an admission policy based on faith.

Why Change Rules:
This reply is targeted at a more general level of why do people seek to change rules? One reason could be that the person may perceive they are being treated unfairly. You have people trying to change the rules everyday and that is part of how society moves forward. From the momentuous protest of obtaining fundamental rights such as universal suffrage to more mundane protest such as demanding your local post office install a ramp access.

Equal Access: Equal Education
Let me pose this question. Why is it that in the world of employment, sacking or not hiring a person solely based on faith is considered grounds of violation of Human Rights or Constitution. The company is a private institution yet why cannot they hire who they want. So why the difference for education? Just as I understand that hiring based on faith is allowed for jobs such as a priest, I too understand that entry to a school that trains a person to be a priest to be perfectly valid. But in the case of a normal education, is it right to make a distinction?

London if I recall with the 5 zones of the tube is not exactly a small place. If there is a good school nearby but the person is not allowed entry on the basis of his faith then do you not see that such a system discriminates against people of a certain faith. Thus it is not a true alternative unless that choice gives the person the an equal quality education for an equal cost either monetary or travelling time.

Effects: Public Policy
Let me give you a nice and funny (I chuckled) quote. "When we have people arguing over whether there are separate toilets for people of different faiths, then we are in a situation that doesn't belong in a 21st century Scotland but a mid-20th century South Africa." The person was talking about religious school entry (I believe) rather than actual toilets.

If one were to create an education system that segregates either intentionally (faith based entry requirements) or indirectly (no headscarf) then one is creating a society that is fractured where people of different faith keep together. Did not the recent events in Holland show the danger of segretating people?

Expanding the focus of this topic, if the ban of headscarf was to be extended to all schools (public included) then there is the possibility of parents seeking to send their daughters to private religious schools that may have low standards thus resulting in women of that particular faith having an inferior education. This of course have to be balanced with the consideration that banning headscarf in school may create the opportunity for students to mix in a better manner thus resulting in friendships and understanding with people of other faith and would help in the fostering of an inclusive society.

Headscarf:
Finally, oddly enough I see the whole headscarf issue to be quite separate from entry into schools. This raises a whole set of other considerations, whereby for example the European Court of Human Rights allowed a ban on headscarf in a Turkish University. Have not talked much on this since from the above postings, this does not seem to be a line of inquiry.

By the way, do nuns not wear a headscarf like thing too?
post #26 of 28
ok, it's fair enough if the parents want her to wear a scarf, but if they are that religious, why send her to a catholic school then?? i dont think the school is wrong in saying she can't, if the choice was up to me, i'd say exactly the same!
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by cazx01
ok, it's fair enough if the parents want her to wear a scarf, but if they are that religious, why send her to a catholic school then?? i dont think the school is wrong in saying she can't, if the choice was up to me, i'd say exactly the same!
Reason is simple. They want their daughter to have a good education. And it was stated that that particular school was good. And presumably the daughter is good enough academically to enter it. So it does not seem right that a person have to choose between their religion and to get a top education. Bearing in mind the pros and cons of both position as stated above in public policy.
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpy
Reason is simple. They want their daughter to have a good education. And it was stated that that particular school was good. And presumably the daughter is good enough academically to enter it. So it does not seem right that a person have to choose between their religion and to get a top education. Bearing in mind the pros and cons of both position as stated above in public policy.
yes but, as it states in the name, it is a catholic school.
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