.- The European Human Rights Court will issue a ruling March 18 on whether crucifixes should be present in the public schools of Italy.
The European court issued a ruling in November 2009 in favor of a mother who claimed the crucifixes “weren’t in harmony” with the way she wanted her two daughters to be educated.
Although the crucifix could be “encouraging” for some pupils, the court said, it could be “emotionally disturbing” for pupils of other religions or those who profess no religion. The court said the state has an obligation to refrain from “imposing beliefs, even indirectly, in places where persons are dependent on it or in places where they are particularly vulnerable.”
Italy then launched an appeal against the decision in June 2010, noting that the presence of crucifixes in the classroom does not amount to government-sponsored religion.
The court will issue its final ruling on March 18.
Dr. Martin Kuegler, a historian, politician and analyst with the Kairos agency, emphasized on March 15, that the crucifix “is the emblem of Europe.” He noted that it is part of the right to religious freedom, and the push to remove it from the classroom is due more to ideological motives than to political correctness.
“A supposed right not to be exposed to religious content can’t override the right to the free exercise of religion,” Dr. Kuegler stated.
Dr. Kuegler is also a member of the European Observatory for Religious Freedom.
“Instead of fighting against religious intolerance or even against religious symbols, it is religion itself that is attacked,” he added. “Political problems cannot be addressed by a stand-off with religion.”
From a democratic standpoint, he argued, “The majority of the people affected want to keep the crucifix! This is a problem of democratic politics, which in this case is putting individual interests above others.”