October 5th, 2011
01:53 PM ET

School tells girl wearing rosary violates dress code

An Omaha, Nebraska, sixth-grader was told she could not wear a necklace with a cross to school because the rosary has become an identifying symbol for gangs, CNN affiliate KETV reported.

Elizabeth Carey told KETV that wearing a rosary is an expression of her faith, but Fremont Public Schools says it is a violation of its dress code.

"I'm wearing a cross necklace, a cross T-shirt and a cross bracelet. I'm thinking of how Jesus died on the cross and how he gave up all his sins for us," Elizabeth told KETV.

Schools Superintendent Steve Sexton says the issue is about safety, not religion.

"We had information from law enforcement that there were documented instances of gang activity in the area, and we had information that states that the rosary was being used as a symbol of gang affiliation," Sexton told KETV.

"There are those who want to make this an issue about religion when it's about a singular goal - to create a safe environment for our students,” he said.

Omaha’s Catholic Archdiocese is disappointed with the school's decision.

"I don't think Christians should have to forfeit what is the symbol for the love of Christ because a few people want to misuse that symbol," Archdiocese Chancellor Rev. Joseph Taphorn told KETV.

The American Civil Liberties Union also has gotten involved.

"We understand the serious concerns about gangs in schools, but Fremont Public Schools should demonstrate there is a concrete gang connection before shutting down a student's free speech and religious rights,” Amy Miller, the legal director for the ACLU in Nebraska, told KETV,

"If the ACLU has another view, we will gladly listen to it, but the fact is one year ago we were alerted to the fact that wearing the rosary as jewelry had a gang affiliation,” Sexton said. “We took the position that we did after careful discussion with our attorneys."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Nebraska • United States

soundoff (1,104 Responses)
  1. Mariah

    That's so stupid. Gang members will use anything to represent their gang. It's true about the utensil thing, will they band that too?

    October 5, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  2. Bo

    @ Hippy, someone hyjacked my post to you, I don't kknow how. I did say your 2:52 post was bigotry, but I didn't say atheists should grow up. One is not like the other.

    October 5, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i don't think what i posted was bigotry, but you clearly do... no worries, she got what she deserves... you break the rules you get punished, not sry for her. and i still think that wearing the cross is walking around showing off what your so-called savior had to go thru, its a symbol of pain and suffering not love, as i said – explain how the hell hanging jesus around your neck while he is nailed to the cross is a show of love...then i will show you how my middle finger and a well aimed baseball is a showing of compassion!

      October 5, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  3. AtrociAtheist

    It's the reason why there's no atheist should be allowed to hold a high position in governments. It would mean the end of the world.

    October 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Hey in case nobody told you, MANY have!

      I suspect Obama is one as well.

      October 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Definitely NOT Obama

      It must be Stalin and Mao.

      October 5, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • AusieSceptic1

      you don't know much about the world AA-
      the prime minister of my country is a self confessed atheist, and what godless thing are we doing? supporting the u.s.a. in the middle east with troops on the ground

      October 5, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Colin

      Bill, I suspect you are right on Oama. He went to church the minimum possible to ensure the black religious vote, but exhibits all the rationality and sense of an atheist.

      October 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      The end of the world? I thought that was the dream of all Christians anyway

      October 5, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Jesus

      Any savvy politician would be ending his career by admitting his or her atheism. Too many dim bulbs out there vote based on somebody being "God fearing". I know many politicians, some professing evangelical fundamentalism, that ridicule behind closed doors the "faithful" for believing in such nonsense.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • rigel54

      What's the reason (unclear reference, don't know what you're talking about)? Countless atheists have served in many governments, including our own. They include "Founding Fathers" such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (especially if you include the amorphous "deism" of the Enlightenment as a diplomatic form of atheism, which it often was.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  4. Bo

    @Doc & BRC You are right, because if we don't live as He it wont matter how He died, but we can not forget how He died, because he died we can live, because He arose so shall we.---–It is a shame this girl can not display her faith, but if it is physicly dangerous, aside from faith, everyone involved should consider her safty first.

    October 5, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I can live because my parents did the nasty.

      No other reason at all.

      October 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • optomist

      My Mother was a test tube and my Father was a knife

      October 6, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • rigel54

      Wow, Bo, some tormented hokum. We've mostly moved past the era of ritual rhythmic utterance to summon the spirits, but if it makes you feel more relaxed it's OK by me (just don't expect it to stop a bullet or a bacterium).

      October 7, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  5. Bo

    @Hippy post2:52 That is bigotry!

    October 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  6. Bo

    @Doc V :Apparently you are just trying to be funny, or you know nothing about the 2nd coming of Christ. It will be the wicket that will want to go into hidding.

    October 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Christians have been waiting on tenterhooks for the Second Coming since the Bible itself was written.
      Many have prophesied the exact time of date of His return and ALL have been wrong.
      George Rapp said it would be September 15th, 1829.
      William Miller predicted October 22, 1844. Jesus’ failure to arrive is known as “The Great Disappointment”. Many of his disillusioned followers went on the found the 7th Day Adventist Church, who are still patiently awaiting His return.
      Charles Russell, 1st President of the Watchtower Society told his fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus would be back in 1874.
      Rudolf Steiner maintained that from 1930 onwards, Jesus would grant certain people psychic powers to enable them to witness his presence in the “etheric plane”.
      Herbert Armstrong, Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God said 1975.
      Bill Maupin managed to convince his followers to sell all of their worldly goods in preparation for Jesus’ return on June 28th, 1981.
      Benjamin Crème stated that on June 21st, 1982 Christ would make a worldwide television announcement.
      Mark Blitz, Pastor of El Shaddai Ministries says it would be September 30th, 2008
      Jerry Falwell said it’d happen between 1999 and 2009.
      Harold Camping is telling everyone that the Rapture will happen May 21, 2011 after failing in his first predicted date of 1994.

      Conversely, many believe He’s all ready come in the form of Sun Myung Moon, Emanuel Swedenborg, Baha u llah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, David Koresh, Hailie Selassie, John Thom, Arnold Potter, William Davies, George roux, Ernest Norman, Krishna Venta, Ahn Sahng-Hong, Jim Jones, Mashall Applewhite, Hulon Mitchell, Wayne Bent, Ariffin Mohammed, Mitsuo Matayoshi, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, Inri Cristo, Thomas Provenzano, David Icke, Shoko Asahara, Hogan Fukinaga, Marina Tsvigun or Sergei Troop.

      It would appear that the much lauded Jewish carpenter has been thoroughly dead for 2000 years and will remain so.

      October 5, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Why do croquet targets have to hide?

      Is Jesus mad at sporting equipment?

      October 5, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • HellBent


      Perhaps the croquet was made from a fig tree...

      October 5, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • rigel54

      Who's hidding the wickets? I can find all of the mallets. Of course, I had mallets aforethought.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  7. hippypoet

    can someone please explain how the hell hanging jesus around your neck while he is nailed to the cross is a show of love...then i will show you how my middle finger and a well aimed baseball is a showing of compassion!

    October 5, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Because Christianity is a Bondage and Dominance fetish gone horribly wrong.

      October 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Ed

      @hippypoet. The crucifix is a reminder of what Christ did for us. It is also a representation that since we continue to sin he continues to pay for those sins. When we stop sinning Catholics will take him off the cross.

      October 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Careful, hippypoet. Ed will call you a "git" soon.

      The rapture capsule is waiting, Edward. Don't be caught without that nose ring in, and it had better not be rusty.

      October 5, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  8. HotAirAce

    She, or anyone else, should be allowed to wear whatever they like provided it complies with other ("hate"?) laws.

    That being said, I hope for the day when believers are too embarrassed to openly admit they believe in supernatural beings, much like almost no one admits publicly that they believe in astrology ("modern" religion’s predecessor on the silly belief evolutionary tree).

    October 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I bet the believers will be shocked to learn that that den of atheists, the ACLU, is looking after their interests:

      "We understand the serious concerns about gangs in schools, but Fremont Public Schools should demonstrate there is a concrete gang connection before shutting down a student's free speech and religious rights,” Amy Miller, the legal director for the ACLU in Nebraska, told KETV,"

      October 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      I think that Jefferson said it best:

      "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors."

      October 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • rigel54

      Amen, Thomas Jefferson, my hero!

      October 7, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  9. WOT

    God help us all, judgment will began at the house of God! Please Come Lord Jesus, Soon! A cross around the neck has been worn for years, she should take the school to court!

    October 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • William Demuth


      Somehow I always sense a threat when a Christian says judgement.

      We none believers seek justice as well.

      We want YOU to be accountable for your sins, while you are still alive.

      Judgement after death, thats as rich as the checks in the mail!

      October 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Jamie K

      Oh please. She's allowed to wear a normal cross chain neckalce, shirts with crosses, and her bracelet with a cross. No one is attacking her rights. What she isn't allowed to wear is a crucifx. The schools and many businesses here in Omaha have had to adopt a zero tolerance policy when it comes to clothing etc that could be considered gang related. Unfortunately, gangs have decided that rosaries are cool, so anything resembling a rosary is not allowed at school.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Jamie K

      Sigh... I mean what she isn't allowed to wear is a rosary.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  10. Jena

    She's wrong. A rosary is NOT for decoration. It is for praying. If she wants to pray the Rosary, fine, pray it, but wearing it is a sacrilige, not not devotion.

    October 5, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Ed

      Jena, Priest, nuns and Monks all wear rosarys with some attire. There is no rule in the church forbiding the wearing of a rosary. It is used in a particular prayer ritual but can also be worn.

      October 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Ed, you'll need to take your rosary off when you dive in to get into the capsule, or it might catch on stuff. Close your mouth this time too, or you'll get the brown floaters in like you did last time at practice, when the swirling starts.

      October 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Really???

      Ed is correct, the wearing of a rosary conveys a special blessing upon the person. In Ireland it used to be common during the persecutions to wear them under the shirt. Traditionally, praying a rosary takes a day off the time the soul spends in purgatory & rosaries can be prayed for the repose of others souls as well. Originally the prayers were represented by 150 stones or seeds transferred from one bowl to another. Later they were pierced, strung, & reduced in volume for portability. They started with a tassel as the end point of a straight string. Then the became a circle & later added the trailing beads with a crucifix. This girl is wearing hers properly Jena, there is nothing wrong with it.

      October 5, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  11. GSA

    "I don't think Christians should have to forfeit what is the symbol for the love of Christ because a few people want to misuse that symbol,"-agree with the statement and she should be able to wear it but i'm sure if you ask most Christians if symbols from other faiths are allowed and you will get an entirely different answer.

    October 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I'd like to point out that the swastika was once a symbol of love and peace as well.

      If it happens to fall into the 'can't wear this bin' because of a previous rule already set in place then that's just too bad. She shouldn't be allowed to wear it. This has nothing to do with religion, just everyone following the rules that were previously in place.

      This story is like someone wearing red in an area where the crips and bloods operate and saying they should be allowed to wear it because it's their favorite color or something.

      October 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Ed

      GSA, As a christian let me say people should be allowed to wear what ever symbol of faith they like. Whether the symbol is a star, ankh, a pentagram or a cross. That is the very definition of freedom of religion and must American christian fully support this freedom. If the school is doing this for safety then its unfortunate but necessary. The rules sghould be the same for everyone. If the school is doing this to prevent a Christian symbol at school than that violates her write to freedom of expression and religion and should not be allowed

      October 5, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Really???

      I agree with ED about needing to maintain freedom of religion for everyone. This is not likely to be a real safety issue either. The child attends a middle school in Omaha Nebraska & she wore this rosary thru grade school. Unfortunately there is lingering prejudice against Catholics, & it has become stronger in the past decade. It is displayed on the forums constantly. Sad.

      October 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • *frank*

      Given the horrendous legacy of Catholicism, up to and including the present day, I don't think "pre" is very apt...

      October 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Really???

      Frank proved my point rather well that there is still anti Catholic prejudice. Back to the days of Catholics need not apply for Frank I guess(sigh).

      October 5, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Jamie K

      Uh, Omaha has a HUGE Catholic population. This is not a case of dscrimination against Catholics. Omaha DOES have a growing gang problem though. Many schools and business have adopted zero tolerance policies concerning clothing etc that gangs have been adopting.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • rigel54

      Hey, great idea! Everybody (Christians, atheists, etc., etc.) should wear crucifixes, then they would lose their functionality as symbols of anything, including gangs. Forbidding symbols, apart from those that are freshly offensive (swastikas) is a silly waste of time.

      October 7, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  12. hippypoet

    maybe if she wore a necklace of the ALMIGHTY SUN no one would have a problem? being everything owes its life to it.

    October 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • atheists should grow-up

      Definitely there's none, atheist are not allergic to (Sun necklace) it.

      October 5, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Ed

      you do realize there have been many releigion believing in a Sun god. so your are actually pledging faith in a religion while trying to be flippant

      October 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      hippy, he starts with "flippant", but it will be on to "git" and the hard stuff soon. Go Ed.

      October 5, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Really???

      Hippydippy since this student already has her own valid belief your suggestion that she wear a random chain of suns as a replacement is rather insulting. Your nature child naivete slipped badly, revealing a person who wants to push their own religious agenda upon others. Thankfully we do still have freedom OF religion, even though it frosts your love beads.

      October 5, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • rigel54

      OK, Ed, who worships the sun god? Of all things, worshiping the sun makes a certain amount of sense, since we can't exist without its sweet little fusion honeypot.

      October 7, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  13. BRC

    It's unfortunate when criminal activity effects other peoples lives, but it happens. As long as the school isn't banning praying or possessing a rosary (the student cuold keep it in her backpack or in her pocket), and only makeign rules against them being worn publicly, then they really aren't doing anything wrong (besides this is Nebraska we're talking about, they'r enot exactly a non-religious state).

    Not that I have a dog in the fight, but a secondary thought- "I'm wearing a cross necklace, a cross T-shirt and a cross bracelet. I'm thinking of how Jesus died on the cross and how he gave up all his sins for us,"; isn't that a bit excessive. I'm an atheist, but so maybe I'm wrong, but wouldn't it be better to focus on how he lived, instead of how he died? Just a thought.

    October 5, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "wouldn't it be better to focus on how he lived, instead of how he died?"

      Not according to Mel Gibson

      October 5, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Really???

      You do understand that there have been times in this last century where rosaries were hidden under clothing due to religious persecution? She should hide it in a backpack? Hide your religion? Do you realize what that sounds like? In a country founded upon freedom OF religion how can you think that sounds right?

      October 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • BRC

      I did say hide it, I said keep it there instead of wearing it. I even agreed that she should be able to openly pray. You took a pragmatic solution and tried to make it sound like persecution. Nice try, but it doesn't work that way.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • rigel54

      You can't take prayer out of the schools unless you take exams with them.

      October 7, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  14. hippypoet

    good to hear... i am happy she got in trouble.. those dangle with religious meaning and have no place in school...don't they teach separation of church and state in her school?

    October 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Really???

      Obviously you were absent the day they taught you in civics that it is " freedom OF religion". That means a Muslim can bring prayer beads, a Protestant can wear a cross, a Jew can wear a prayer shawl, a pagan can wear a pentacle, A Sikh can wear a turban. Of course Atheists cannot wear just nothing because nudity is illegal 😉 ( sorry bad joke). This gang symbol excuse is a very thin excuse indeed. This is a middle school in Omaha Nebraska. I guess you'll buy anything.

      October 5, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  15. Anon

    If I walk around with a mythological dead guy on a cross then everything is ok, but if I wear an ankh which is basically the same thing (except it's just the representation of the metaphorical rebirth of a sun god) then Christians go all crazy spouting nonsense.

    October 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • hippypoet

      ah, i see we have another follower of the ALMIGHTY SUN! May tha ALMIGHTY SUN SHINE A LIGHT UPON YOU ALWAYS.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Deep Logic Probe

      The Sun charges my batteries, that's for sure.

      October 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Ed

      I have not nor have I every seen a Chirstian go crazy when the see some one wearing and ankh. several kids in my schools wore them from middle scholol through college. never went crazy neither did any of my christian freinds

      October 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  16. I'm The Best!

    I think the school is doing the right thing. If they don't stop it here then anyone who is actually part of a gang can just say they're practicing free speach and publicize that gang.

    It's too bad if someone takes your religious symbol and makes it look bad like using it in gangs or something. But now you shouldn't be wearing it in public because of some bad apples. Just remember, the Swastica used to be a symbol for peace as well, then the nazi's got ahold of it.

    October 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Really???

      Yeah, because I'm sure there are huge gangs using rosaries as symbols in a middle school in Omaha Nebraska. Did you know that gullible is written on the ceiling? Honestly, just look up! There's your sign.

      October 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Apparently there are problems with gangs using those symbols in Nabraska, which is why they told her to take off the roseries in the first place.

      And the gullible thing? really? What are you 12?

      October 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  17. William Demuth

    Throw here out and move on.

    No religious symbols. They divide us.

    October 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • AtrociAtheist

      That so much for rights advocacy. Gays should celibate.

      October 5, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  18. Doc Vestibule

    Any else find it ironic how many gang-bangers have a Jesus/Crucifix/Praying hands tattoo?

    October 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      It reminds me of one of my favorite movie scenes – the baptism scene in the first Godfather movie.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Not at all.

      Indoctrinated minds are EASILY manipulated.

      In candor, if they are stupid enough to believe in fairy tales, they are ripe for the picking.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  19. GodPot

    If gang indica is banned then crosses should go, it is merely another symbol of gang affiliation, not a symbol of love for Christ. Thats like showing love for MLK after his death by wearing a sniper rifle around your neck, real classy...

    October 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      If Jesus did come back, I think he'd go into hiding as soon as he saw how many people sport his means of execution as a fashion accessory.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  20. JF

    This is ridiculous. So what if a gang decides to make the pencil their gang sign? Are they going to disallow the use of pencils in schools?

    October 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • HellBent

      Maybe the school, in the interest of student safety, will take a proactive approach and ban all writing utensils just in case some gang somewhere might use them as a symbol.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • K3Citizen

      Michelle Bachmann told me she heard from someone that the gangs are using tea pots as their symbols.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.