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article imageItaly, Europe, and the problem of the banned crucifix

By R. C. Camphausen     Jun 30, 2010 in World
In November 2009, a European Court decided schools in Italy are not allowed to have a crucifix hanging in every classroom. Now, some Italian and European politicians are attempting to overturn that law by turning to Americans for help.
In November 2009, Digital Journal reported the European Court of Human Rights ruled that crucifixes should not be displayed in Italian public schools. The issue was raised after a mother of two sons had complained about the prevalence of the Christian symbol in all rooms of the school her children attended.
The court's ruling was heavily criticized by the Vatican and politicians, but the role of Christianity as Italy's state religion ended in 1948 so the court's ruling fell in line with the wishes of individuals as well as other religious groups.
Today, the Italian government formally launched an appeal, requesting the European Court of Human Rights overturn the 2009 ban on crucifixes in classrooms.
As it stands now, the ruling is worded as such: "The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions." This wording prompted the ban, but critics say a crucifix is not a religious symbol but a traditional symbol of European history.
While Catholicism is the still the dominant faith in Italy, the country's 1948 constitution indicates there is no state religion. A decision by the European Court of Human Rights accounts for the fact there are many people who follow other creeds, or none. As the BBC reports, "If the government loses, it would mean that all religious artifacts in classrooms across the European Union could be outlawed."
Although the Vatican said the European court has no right intervening in such a profoundly Italian matter, one must note that now, such reservation against foreign influence seems to have been laid aside. As CNS News reports, "]Thirty-two members of the European Parliament (MEPs), represented by an American religious rights group [Italics mine], have intervened in a controversial European court decision to remove crucifixes from school classrooms across Italy.
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