Should students be allowed to proclaim their religion on a
T-shirt at school?
Answer: In 2006, the Supreme
Court of Canada declared that it offended Canada’s Charter of Rights
and Freedoms when a school board banned a 12-year-old Sikh student from
wearing his 20 cm/8 inch kirpan (dagger) required by Sikh orthodoxy.
Since 2011, the kirpan has been legal in Canada’s federal parliamentary
buildings, but not in provincial parliamentary buildings in Quebec.
Members of certain sects of Hinduism, Buddhism, and branches of
Judaism, Christianity and Islam directly proclaim their religion by
distinctive dress (kipas, turbans, hijabs, uniforms, veils, etc). Isn’t
the wearing of a cross around one’s neck a proclamation of faith?
We don’t seem to mind commercial messages on T-shirts. We tolerate all
sorts of messages in bad taste on clothing. Some people find it cute to
wear even offensive messages on T-shirts. But now there seems to be a
problem with a student proclaiming his religion on this item.
We live in an increasingly pluralistic society where minority rights
must be considered. But the balance is getting decidedly lopsided. To
take but one example, either minority pressure or politically correct
bosses have succeeded in banning the Christmas tree from some
workplaces. Some in this country have even successfully objected to the
very name of Jesus! So the Christmas tree has for some become the more
insipid “holiday tree,” its very origin denatured.
As soon as someone complains, some authorities feel they need to
regulate. No one must be offended. The rule of political correctness,
which is often nothing else but a form of censorship and control, often
inconsistent and illogical, is brought to bear.
But, of course, common sense and courtesy should hold sway, words that
do not belong in the vocabulary of some ultra-religious practitioners.
Common sense and courtesy should determine the wording of the message.
Unnecessarily provocative, overly judgmental, or damning sorts of
messages are bound to offend.
So I would tend to avoid blanket rulings and look at individual cases.
But as a general rule, I would say that freedom of expression should
allow the proclamation of anyone’s religion on a T-shirt. Several of
the world’s religions have been doing it successfully for millennia by
wearing distinctive dress. -