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. ARH

    Gosh – next thing you know the school will be telling Sikhs that they can't wear their traditional Kirpan to school! The Kirpan, of course, being a cremonial dagger that baptized Sikhs are commanded by their religion to carry with them at all times. There is no difference from a religious point of view of course, and banning one but allowing the other based on an argument that one is inherently more dangerous than the other is simply religious bigotry.

    October 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm |

      i think what you fail to understand is that if you want your kids to wear whatever religious crap they want then they will have to go to a secial school for like kids that do or wear the same thing/s.... its called separation of church and state. all things in public schools are to be general in nature, cloths, hair, grades... deal with it or write a law and try to get it passed in the house, othersire you are wasting your time.

      October 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Igor

      Daggers are cool, I'm going to start wearing one. Jewel encrusted with an ivory handle.

      October 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  2. hippypoet

    ler wear what she wants as they nail her to the cross... yum, smells like a christian BBQ! just follow the angelic smell of roast ignorance, kinda like the inquistion .
    sry if ispelt it wrong, get over it!

    October 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm |


      October 6, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  3. The LORD

    Jesus wouldn't have been fond of rosary beads anyway, as he really frowned upon drawing attention to yourself for your religion...

    October 6, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  4. ski2exs

    No, the school dictator is just another system monkey. Seriously, somewhere or someday wearing cloths will be attributed to gang violence. Get a life Steve, and/or a brain of your own. "Teachers, leave them kids alone" – P. Floyd

    October 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Igor

      Im in NYC, we've been leaving kids alone for two decades now, it's a mess. I went through a metal detector for 4 years, but I did get a good education once upon a time. This guy is probably another overzealous official, but toning down one's religious insignia is well worth diminishing the possible threat of gang violence. There are worse things in life then fewer crosses dangling. At least no one is feeding her to the lions anymore.

      October 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • ski2exs

      So Igor, when does that start? 🙂

      No. . . instead of ENFORCEMENT actions that trample on our rights as law abiding citizens. . .how about we focus on ENFORCEMENT actions that will start bringing these gangs down? Such as. . oh, I don't know, something radical, like. . . instead of teachers having their hands tied to enforcing dress codes. . .perhaps we could let them slap the bejesus out of disrespectful little punks in front of the entire classroom and put them in their place BEFORE they went down the road of a gang? Eh?

      And as far as in P. Floyds qoute. . .it's tongue in cheek. Ya had a bunch of morons that decided it wasn't the shools place to teach moral behaviour and meter out effective punishments for acting out. . but yet we have a generation of parents unwilling to do it to. What'cha gunna do?

      Seriously, something like this is about as dumb ripping the emblem off a car when it doesn't start for you, and actually believing it will fix the problem.

      October 6, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Igor

      "how about we focus on ENFORCEMENT actions that will start bringing these gangs down? "

      Well how do you propose that. Crime is primarily an economic problem. Improve people's lot in life and you cut down on crime. That takes time, is expensive, and hard during a recession. Police enforcement will temporarily solve the problem, except police has limited resources and man power due to cut funding. Same goes for education, the first sector to be cut in tough times.

      You are correct though, the parents are overly reliant on the schools and the government to teach their kids how to be civic minded and moral and the underpaid overworked teachers can't deal with all that pony****.

      Love the quote, but Animals has always been my favorite album. Sometimes we all need a shelter from the pigs on the wing.

      October 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  5. Su Lynn

    Welcome to Freedom in America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! or not.
    Just another example of our "nanny" government stopping everyone from doing what they want because it doesn't have balls enough to fix the real problem (in this case gangs).
    If that were my child, she and I would be dressed head to toe in rosarys, and I would be in school everyday. We have NO rights, because we won't stand-up for them.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  6. Max Powers

    I'm just glad Jesus wasn't beaten to death with a giant d!ld0. I'd hate her to come to school with that on her shirt and on her neck and on wrist. Cause that would be messed up. If you want to remember someone, I don't think you should use the thing they were killed with. That's just messed up.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Pat

      Can you imagine going to church with huge sculptures and paintings of Jesus getting rogered with a giant dild0?
      That would be weird.

      October 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  7. Igor

    Several against, most notably Latin Kings, do use rosaries, among other things, for identification. While the school may be overreacting, it is also possible that they have the safety of the child and other school children in mind. And don't worry, gangs won't be using sporks as insignia. The children can continue eating their school lunches in peace.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  8. Rosary as necklace...

    She did it because Situation on Jersey Shore does it.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  9. sam

    ""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.

    Wow. Could she not find the matching anklet and hair accessories? Doesn't seem like overkill at all.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Igor

      There's something morbid about a six grader girl is wearing so many instances of a half naked dude nailed to a cross. Then again, I was raised Jewish so celebrating mass infanticide is fairly gruesome as well.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Chuckles

      YEE HW FOR PASSOVER! I love Seder's so much!

      October 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Igor

      Fortunately, I am fairly certain that no deity killed bunch of infants on behest of the slaves. The whole thing made no sense anyways, wasn't it easier just to kill the Pharaoh and key military officials. Master strategist this god ain't.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  10. TheMirror

    Can any RCC members expound on the wearing of the Rosary? I thought they were beads for prayer and were held in the hand while praying the prayers of the Holy Rosary. So isn't wearing it kind of stretch in the expression of faith since there were not meant to worn by the faith that created it? Or is the a case of people wanting to be perceived as Christian? Just curious.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  11. Monty Python

    Help, help, I'm being 'oppressed'! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

    October 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  12. The LORD

    "...he gave up all his sins for us..."
    first off she is clearly stupid or has been poorly taught what the bible teaches...by 13, if she doesn't know what she's talking about on such a fundamental level, her faith is obviously not that strong.
    Secondly, how is this new news? As far as I can tell, rosary beeds have been linked to one of the most notorious and violent gangs of the last 1,500 years...it's called the catholic church....

    October 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "if she doesn't know what she's talking about on such a fundamental level, her faith is obviously not that strong."

      Or her parents are stupid and indoctrinated her incorrectly.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • al

      She's in 6th grade. Maybe you were 13 in the 6th grade, but the rest of us were about 10-11. So, maybe she's a little nervous when she's talking to reporters and mixed up her words...'cause, you know, she's a KID. You're a d-bag.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • The LORD

      I apologize for not lining up the proper age with the proper grade. Regardless, stupid is stupid and this child is clearly stupid and has no understanding about what she proclaims to believe in so deeply. I may not have remembered exactly how old I was, but I remember that I was reading Shakespeare in 6th grade...and grasping it. So yes, this little girl is just more than a little stupid...which is probably why she believes so fervently in her "religion."

      October 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  13. Just Wondering

    Does the rosary/gang affiliation have to do with the amount of Latinos involved in gang activity? Trust me I am NOT making my own generalization, I'm just thinking of which Catholics are ever involved in gang activity. If that's why they did it that is awfully stupid. I'm sure all of the administrators are Southern Baptist. I am Greek Orthodox and am constantly asked by ignorant Baptists whether I'm Christian or have been "saved"..."from what?" I ask. I was baptized.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • sam

      How sure are you?

      October 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  14. Paul

    Yea, the girl needs to study her bible before she tries to start any more controversy. It's a fairly well-known piece of Christianity that Jesus didn't have any sins to give up.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Monty Python

      Pretty sure she was coached on that one.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  15. KellyinCA

    Hmm...wearing the Rosary around one's neck is not standard practice among Catholics from Northern European backgrounds, but seems to be common among Latino Catholics. Back in the day, it was Madonna supposedly misusing such items; today Lady Gaga gets flak for it. As for the Rosary's association with gang culture and the girl's safety, I might buy the theory if Ms. Carey dressed or wore her hair in a similar style to those in local gangs, but nothing she`s wearing suggests that she`s a gang-banger. Besides, it`s Omaha – I doubt there`s much actual gang activity that couldn`t be coped with by a few calls to parents.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  16. snow

    Oh sure let her wear it.. and if a rival gang member (of the gang with cross symbol) sees her and mistake her to be a member of the other gang, lets see the results.. will she be so concerned about her religious expression then?

    October 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Guest

      maybe, maybe not, but that's her (and her parent's) problem, not the school's, isn't it?

      And what is the lesson here, that the gangs can set the standard for expression and dress? If a gang wore yarmulkes, would they be banned? Or glasses? Or long sleeve white shirts? Come on, you can't allow the gangs to dictate this sort of things; it just plays into their power trips.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Ol cranky

      @guest – unfortunately, it may be some poor kid standing next to her that gets hurt.

      October 6, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  17. larvadog

    Next up – gangs that use textbooks as symbols send school officials into a tizzy. Film at 11.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • ski2exs


      TOOOoooooooo funny!

      October 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Guest

      Agreed; LOL.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  18. PAT

    Would the ACLU defend a muslum girl with her face covered acording to her religion?

    October 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • The LORD


      October 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  19. Jim

    Of course, you all realize that this Nebraska! The land of tweeties and corn!

    October 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Jamie K

      Don't be an ass. The Omaha metro area has over 1 million people living there.

      October 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  20. Jim

    Probably the info the school received regarding the association between gangs and cross necklaces came from a parent that has a big mouth and a stupid mind. And, of course, the complaint has the rule over the child's rights. Their decision has no basis in fact as anything could be described as gang related! Dumb!

    October 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      The information most likely came from local police. I doubt the school system would take one parents word for something that would cause this much controversy.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • sam

      You sound so very knowledgable about this situation and not at all like a d0uche just ranting aimlessly about something he knows nothing about. Tell us more.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
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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.