Italy fights to overturn crucifix ban

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I learned of this story last November, and wrote about its relevance for Ireland, North and South:

Just as a reminder of why this is even an issue in Italy, the country removed Catholic control of its curriculum over 30 years ago, but no one bothered to update a 1920s law mandating the display of crucifixes in all state schools. It is this display of religious symbols in public property that is running foul of European legislation.

Last November I described my rationale for why this is not an issue for Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.

As a strong advocate of the separation of church and state, it would suit me fine to have all religious symbols removed from all public buildings.

Italy fights to overturn crucifix ban (Euronews)
30 June 2010  

The Italian government has gone to the European Court of Human Rights to try to overturn a ban on crucifixes being displayed in its state-run schools.

It is appealing a ruling by the Strasbourg-based tribunal which said the presence of such symbols could be “disturbing” for pupils who practised other religions or who were atheists.

Italy is predominantly Catholic and the court’s decision last year sparked outrage.

It is right to keep crosses in schools “since our religion is Catholic,” argues Lidia, a teacher in Rome.

But Maria, a student in the capital, sees things differently. Because there are children of other faiths too, she believes: “In a school you should not teach religion. You should teach culture.”

If Italy loses its appeal, religious symbols could be outlawed in state-schools across the European Union.


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