Thirty-seven law professors from countries around the globe have written to the European Court of Human Rights, urging them to overturn a ruling that banned crucifixes from Italian classrooms.
In their comments to the court, professors from 11 countries throughout the world cautioned that failing to overturn the ruling could incite a hostile relationship between the government and religion in Europe and could even threaten to unravel the “tapestry” of European civilization, according to the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty.
In November of last year, the court ruled in favor of local mother Soile Lautsi's case to remove religious symbols, including crucifixes, from public schools in Italy to ensure her children's right to a secular education.
On March 2 of this year, the European Court accepted an appeal from the Italian government, thereby temporarily allowing crucifixes to remain in classrooms throughout the country while the appeal is pending. The Grand Chamber of the Court, located in Strasbourg, France, will hold a hearing in the case on June 30.
The professors stressed in their comments to the court that the “attempt to exile religious symbols and ideas from the public square would be foolhardy, because religious symbols and religious ideas are an integral part of the tapestry of European civilization.”
“Pull out that thread,” they warned, “and the entire tapestry unravels.”
Eric Rassbach, national litigation director at the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, who helped draft the submissions to the court, said on Tuesday that a “ban on religious symbols that offend someone, somewhere, is a ban on all religious symbols.”
Speaking on the upcoming June 30 ruling, Rassbach said that rather “than announcing a State crusade against religion, the Court should recognize that religion and government can be harmonious with each other.”