Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Will Croydon ban the Cross?

The Daily Mail claims that the Tory-run Croydon Council - which has previously distinguished itself by instituting Muslim-only swimming sessions at municipal pools - is about to discriminate against Christian schoolchildren:

Schools could be forced to ban their pupils from wearing crosses - while allowing them to display symbols of non-Christian religions.

The rules being considered by one education authority would see jewellery forbidden from PE lessons, apart from in "exceptional circumstances".

The sensitivity apparently only extends to symbols from the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim faiths.

A draft document from Croydon Council in South London apparently says exceptions would include the rakhi cotton bracelet worn by Hindus and the kara metal bracelet put on the arms of Sikh children, which cannot be removed.

The taweez lockets worn by some Muslims on a string around the neck, arm or stomach would also be excluded - though these lockets, containing verses from the Koran, are not seen as compulsory in the religion.

But the document makes no mention of exceptional circumstances for crosses, crucifixes or the chastity rings some Christian pupils choose to wear, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

However, Croydon Council says that it only left the cross and the crucifix off the list of exceptions because teachers could in any event be expected to know that children would wear those, and to act appropriately. Therefore, the council claims, there was no need for guidance on how to treat Christian children.

Whether this is true or not is anyone's guess. In any event, it is clear that leaving the cross and the crucifix off the list is likely to lead to Christianophobic discrimination in practice, even if that is not the intention. One cannot trust people to use their own initiative in the modern world: they really do have to have things spelt out for them. If the guidelines are published in their current form, then you can bet that at least some teachers will treat the list of exceptions as definitive, and ban the cross and crucifix because they're not on there. Plus, there's always the risk of an anti-Christian liberal teacher taking the opportunity to discriminate against Christians, because the cross and crucifix are not expressly stated to be exceptions.


Anonymous said...

I've spoke to my local Croydon councillor about this and have been told it's absolute hogwash.

What has actually happened is Croydon published a guide to types of religious clothing and items that pupils may wear to school.

They've banned nothing.

Fulham Reactionary said...

Yes, but it appears that they've left the cross and the crucifix off the list of permitted items. In these circumstances, the possibility of children wearing these items being asked to remove them is surely going to be increased, since teachers will inevitably look on the guidelines as being definitive.