Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Religionist symbols and the law

I can't quite decide what I think about this.

On the one hand, I can't really be sympathetic to the pernickety policies in both workplace and school which make such a song-and-dance about jewellery, which the religious symbols usually are declared unacceptable within.

On the other hand, there are certainly situations where I think some religious symbols might be considered problematic. The full veil may not be suitable in all work environments where communication is needed. There is also a case for ensuring the religion remains in the private sphere but until Christian religionists accept this, they cannot impose it upon minority religions

But when it comes to a bangle - really, does it cause that much of a problem? It is well known that it is a symbol for Sikhs and it doesn't really cause all that many problems.

I am quite sure if there was a Christian equivalent - something which was considered to be an integral part of following the religion, then there wouldn't be so much fuss made....

7 comments:

a very public sociologist said...

No easy answers for this one, beyond playing by ear.

Chris said...

I have no problem with anyone displaying any religious symbol in school or the workplace as long as it does not compromise safety, other than that, I do not see the big deal about the wearing of religious symbols. I would rather live in a pluralist, multi-cultural society where there is total freedom of religious expression and involvement in every sphere of life.

Merseymike said...

I think I probably agree, as long as that doesn't lead to institutionalised discrimination against others. I gather that this judgment has been made clear that it is not a precedent and is specific owing to the evidence given - there seems to be a definite difference between a small and unobtrusive symbol which is well established as an expected practice and, say, the wearing of a burka (which would be obtrusive) or the wearing of symbols which are not necessary for that religion or a part of it - such as so-called 'purity rings'

David Duff said...

It's no good, I have tried, really I have, but everytime I pass by it jumps out at me ...

The word is "religious".

"Religionist" is just soooo SWP!

Merseymike said...

No, no, its religionist - I'm not giving religionism any credit or legitimacy. Its just anther ideology (as is marxism, which I am definitely not supportive of....)

Chris said...

I am not even bothered about purity rings, if that is an important aspect to their faith journey and if it is not breaching any health and safety regulations, then why not? I suppose there may come a point when we have ask where are the boundaries..... which is probably why France goes down the secular route, which to me smacks of oppression. I'd rather we live in a genuine multi-faith society where people can freely express their faith in any context, that involves risks, yes; the boundaries may be fuzzy, but I'd rather have take those risks and be enriched by living in a liberal democracy.

Merseymike said...

Problem is that once you say 'yes' to purity rings then I can't see any reason to stop any jewellery at all.
The recent judgments have all been rather contradictory and the advantage of the French approach is that everyone knows exactly where they stand - that religion is not for the public, secular sphere. I think that's far more akin to liberal democratic ideals. It wouldn't matter so much of some religions didn't have such clearly theocratic ends! But given that they do, I can't really think of any other way of achieving a fair and reasonable solution