In the news recently, there has been a great deal of coverage concerning the ACLU’s desire for a ban against crosses on federal property per the “establishment of religion” clause in the Constitution of the United States. No matter which side you take on the issue, consider this implication of the ban: supporters feel that librarians who are serving in any public capacity (including school librarians, state-funded academic librarians, public librarians, etc.) should not be permitted to wear crosses or any other religious symbols as personal jewelry.
At face value, this seems to be an absurd demand. How in the world could this group of radicals even begin to think that they have the authority to dictate to me what I can and cannot wear to work?!
However, when you stop to consider that religion does not necessarily equate Christianity (Now, stick with me here.) and that the ban would prevent “advertisement” for every religion, the line between black and white suddenly turns a little gray. Let’s break this down into a situation with an actual individual. Mrs. Paige Turner is an elementary school librarian who is also very devoted worshiper of Buddha. She has a shelf in her office that she bought with her personal money, and on that shelf she has a complete shrine to her god. While students do not frequently visit Mrs. Turner’s office, there are some occasions on which they do so for the purposes of running errands, using the computer and printer, etc.
What Mrs. Paige Turner is doing is (in the eyes of the law) no different from what I am doing every day when I wear my tanzanite cross around my neck. We are both using personal property to bring symbols of our religion into a federal building. Who is right and who is wrong? Can you really say that, legally speaking, I am wrong just because you don’t agree with my beliefs? Can Christians say the same about the Buddhist?
Fortunately, this ban has not come to fruition. However, it just might happen in our lifetimes, and it would be beneficial for us to at least consider the outcome.