Religions symbols at schools

Merry christmas

    Some dyed-in-the-wool secularists call for the suppression of religious symbols at public as well as at state-subsidized private schools, since these are supported by public funds. Are they not aware that many parents choose some of these schools precisely because they wish to educate their children according to a Christian sense of life, expressed, among other things, by those symbols? Education based on a set of ideas —whichever, whether religious or not— characterizing many state-subsidized private schools is a public service to the extent that there are parents who want that kind of education for their children. And the chance of choosing that kind of schools is a constitutional right. Symbols help express beliefs and values defining the identity of people and human communities. Suppressing them would contribute to a reifying regimentation, more proper to egalitarian totalitarianism than to free societies. As regards their suppression at public schools, it amounts to neglecting a deep-rooted cultural tradition to which most parents subscribe. In this sense, there is an interesting statement by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) concerning the Headscarf Ban in France: “It is not at the discretion of a state to determine which manifestations are legitimate as long as they do not violate other people’s basic human rights or do not endanger public safety, health or morals.” I do not think this is the case.

Federico Gómez

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