Thursday, September 3, 2009

Legal Religious Discrimination

According to this article from the Associated Press, Oregon has a law that forbids public school teachers from wearing religious clothing. A law that was backed by the Ku Klux Klan to keep Catholics out of schools.
Oregon's law, originally aimed at priest collars and nun habits, survived a legal challenge in the 1980s by a Sikh convert who wanted to wear her turban in the classroom and was recently upheld by the state's Legislature.
Now, Oregon is supposed to be all liberal and progressive, but apparently not when it comes to the religious. Oh, that's right, progressive means getting rid of that old out-dated belief in God. Nonetheless, Gov. Kulongoski did sign the Workplace Religious Freedom Act in July that allows workers to wear religious clothing on the job. So what gives? Well, bet you can guess who is behind this:
the did law did not change the ban for teachers enacted in the 1920s, after that portion was opposed by the Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on the grounds that impressionable children should not feel indoctrinated by their teachers.
Congratulations, ACLU, you agree with the KKK! Apparently the ACLU is only interested in protecting the civil liberties of certain Americans in this case, namely the irreligious. And what liberty is that, exactly? The liberty to not look at the way someone dresses?

Mona Elgindy, a Muslim law student at Loyola University in Chicago (A Jesuit Catholic school) and a former teacher, wrote a paper on the issue of religious clothing laws. She points out that it's not the students or parents that invoke the laws but that "the recent legal history has been created by teachers trying to keep their jobs after administrators confronted them."

Rajdeep Singh Jolly, legal director for the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, has asked the Justice Department to investigate. He suggests "the best way to deal with any problem involving religion in classrooms is to discipline teachers if they try to proselytize students or advocate favoring a particular religion, not for the way they dress."

"I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect that teachers will not talk about their religion in the classroom," Jolly said.

But when it comes to a Sikh turban or other clothing, he asked: "Why should I have to surrender something that is such an integral part of my life in order to pursue a career? It just doesn't make sense."

But that's exactly what proponents of these laws want the religious to do - give up their religious beliefs for secularism.

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