Friday 23 March 2018

Court overturns school crucifix ban

John Walshe and Henry Samuel

CRUCIFIXES can be displayed in school classrooms across Europe, the European Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday.

The decision overturned a previous ruling that the crucifix could breach the rights of non-Christian pupils. The case was initially brought in Italy by Soile Lautsi, a Finnish-born mother whose children attended a state school near Venice and objected to the classroom crucifixes.

In November 2009, the court in Strasbourg ruled that the presence of religious symbols violated the children's right to secular education.

In yesterday's ruling the court decided that "while the crucifix was above all a religious symbol, there was no evidence that the display of such a symbol on classroom walls might have an influence on pupils".

Iona Institute spokesman Dr John Murray said the ruling was "a victory for true pluralism and diversity. The original decision was an attempt to impose a uniform secularism on virtually all of Europe and to force every member of the Council of Europe, including Ireland, to ignore their national, cultural and religious heritages".

He said 20 countries had joined with Italy in appealing the 2009 ruling.

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