WhaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaat? As an atheist, I can tell you that I don’t personally find the image of a cross offensive. In fact, I have plenty of jewelry with crosses on it because I think they are beautiful symbols. I find it hard to believe that people get offended when they are of a different religion or not religious and see crosses? If I am incorrect on this, let me know if it bothers you to see crosses if you are not of the Christian faith.
Audrey Jarvis, a student at Sonoma State University in California, was volunteering during freshman orientation week when her supervisor told her to take off her cross necklace because it might make other students feel unwelcome. This is shocking to me because I do have to wonder if this same supervisor would ask a Muslim student to take off their religious garments? Would they ask a Jewish person to remove a yamaka?
Some atheists (I am assuming that this supervisor is an an atheist because that can only logically make sense) make the mistake of assuming that every single Christian in the United States echoes the fundamentalist beliefs of groups like the Westboro Church. That is total bullshit, the Westboro Church is almost the Christian equivalent of what Al-Qaeda is to Islam: extremists who diminish the real value of spirituality and religious texts.
I am not going to assume what the supervisor’s take on Christianity is but I can only imagine it’s not good.
Audrey said of the incident, “I was offended because I believe as a Christian woman it is my prerogative to display my faith any way I like so long as it is not harming anyone else. was very hurt and felt as if the university’s mission statement – which includes tolerance and inclusivity to all – was violated.”
She has every right to be. Forcing someone to take off a cross is no different than forcing someone to put one on. If incoming students don’t know that some of their peers are religious, not only is that false advertising on the University’s behalf, it may also alienate prospective students who are religious. Having students of faith attend a university doesn’t mean the university is promoting any sort of religious doctrine, it just means the school is inclusive. At the end of the day every student of which ever faith is receiving the same education. That’s what I always believed, colleges are supposed to be places where students of all faiths, races, clases and ethnicities are treated equally.
There are some instances where I think a cross would be inappropriate. If I were going to a public school and let’s say, the windows were stained glass images of any religion, I’d wonder if the school was religious and I’d wonder how that influenced the kinds of studies they were teaching. If it were a private school, that’s the schools prerogative to teach any kind of religious texts. If I were in a court room, for whatever reason, and all of the decor was that of one particular religion, I would wonder how the judge’s own spirituality would affect his verdict. Of course, teachers and judges, like anyone else, would be informed by their religious leanings, which is simply an inevitable truth that I am comfortable with as long as it is respectful.
That’s the key here: respect. I am not going to go into a church and talk about how I believe God isn’t real because, well, why would I purposefully go to a church just to insult something that people believe is incredibly sacred? I will stand up for a separation of church and state because I think that’s the best way a society, based on citizenship, like the United States can function. Just because someone doesn’t believe in the same stuff as you doesn’t mean you get to tell them they aren’t allowed to believe those things, that’s kind of the whole point of, you know, America.
A university spokesperson acknowledged that the incident was uncalled for, saying, “Someone who works here was concerned that the cross might be off-putting to students who are coming to campus for the first time. It was absolutely an inappropriate action for him to make that request of her.”