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. Carol

    The Rosary is not a piece of jewelry or a car mirror adornment. It is a religious symbol used to count the decades of the Rosary. Primarily a Catholic religious means of saying prayers.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Colin

      To those of us who do not understand the Christian superst.ition, what purpose do they serve?

      October 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hey Colin, I think it has tomdo with keeping your place or how many prayers you have done. Maybe such as when they say 15 Hail Marys. I know it is similar to the beads that Muslims have. I would have to check mine.....

      ..... It's hanging on the mirror in my vehicle 🙂

      October 6, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  2. Lindsey

    This school should be closed for interfering with freedom of religion!

    October 6, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  3. LOL

    Interesting choice of gang symbols. Fremont's a haven for illegal hispanics looking for meat packing/processing plant jobs. Has been for about the last 20-25 years. Run the hispanic gangs out and let the kid wear her rosary it isn't hurting anyone.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Run the hispanic gangs out "

      ...... and the white gangs and the African American gangs?

      October 6, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  4. salman

    i hope that they know that this is a violation of the first amendment. just because some gangsters use it as a symbol, it doesn't mean it should be a dress code violation. keep wearing that rosary kid!

    October 6, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  5. kavita

    seems to me that it is okay with school authorities to allow girls to wear really short shorts to school at westview high in beaverton, oregon but it is not okay to wear the cross. figure it out. i think no one knows what they are doing. i know of extra-marital affairs that happened at a school where my kids attended elementary school. no one calls those women adulteresses but they do me when i was not guilty of this. their marriages are alright and mine failed. my kid dropped out of school being bullied and my family suffered. i was not left alone and had to endure many sufferings while alone. my kid was alright for a while but now they are with their dad and i have no one. i was punished once for thinking that those short shorts were wrong and the rich asked me for an apology. they do not like the cross because this country is being taken over by the crack muslims and the satanic chinese. i know that it is possible that certain cross forms might suggest gang involvment but at least it is a religious symbol. ever since one of my sons became a muslim my hair is being destroyed so that it becomes imperative for me to used a 'hijab' headdress. all i can say now (and i am very fed up), i think everyone just needs to go to hell. die all. but then who cares about the opinion of a crackpot like me, huh?

    October 6, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • *frank*

      "it is okay with school authorities to allow girls to wear really short shorts to school at westview high in beaverton, oregon"
      I don't know if it's okay, but it's certainly apropos.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • salman

      your son is either wrong or conservative when it comes to religious interpretations. you don't have to really wear the hijab except for praying or reading the quran. or at least that's what my parents taught me. shame on your son for forcing you to follow his religious beliefs.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Liutgard

      kavita, you have much bigger problems than shorts or hair. Please get some counseling.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • Tex71

      Put. The. Pipe. Down. Now.
      You seriously need to check into rehab.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  6. dan

    The point being made here is that no really religious Catholic would wear a rosary as jewellery. They are using religious freedom opportunistically. I support the school, which is not saying she cannot have the rosary on her, or with her. This is frivolous lawsuit stuff, which thrives in America, while more important things are not being addressed.

    October 6, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"The point being made here is that no really religious Catholic would wear a rosary as jewellery"

      Where in the article does it say she was wearing a rosary?

      “I’m wearing a cross necklace," from the article.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  7. CJG

    Her faith? She's in 6th grade. A+ for her parents for indoctrinating her. She's far too young for this B.S. I hope she gets a mind of her own soon.

    October 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      So are you or have you raised your kids with both the athiest beliefs and the Faithful beliefs.

      I guess if you want a child to think with their own minds you will have offered them as many alternatives and options as possible.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • grist

      My kids have been raised with both. Atheism and ethical humanism from be, religion from their mother. They are now freethinkers.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Tex71

      Well done, grist. My wife and I have brought our children up the same way. If we don't trust them to think for themselves, what does that say about the job we have done as parents?

      October 7, 2011 at 12:32 am |
  8. Willow

    So if I, as an atheist, wanted to wear a necklace that was a pink glass unicorn to symbolize the Invisible Pink Unicorn, should I be allowed to wear it? If a Wiccan wanted to wear a pentagram necklace, should the Wiccan be allowed to wear it? What about the star of the Jews?

    If there are going to be standards, at least let them not be double. Either ban all religious symbols or don't ban them, but do not pick and choose which religions you are going to ban.

    October 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • kavita

      listen you whacko willow. do not dare compare wiccans to christians. how dare you compare the rosary to cult symbols? one is God and the other is detrimental. take your 'willow' witchcraft and use it somewhere else. your reasoning causes excellent scientific progress to be used wrongly and it becomes hazardous to our health and that of the future of our earth. the reason the unicorn for an athiest is transparent is simply because there exists no faith in the soul of the one who harbors a figure which has no depth, no mass, no substance – hence transparent.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • *frank*

      lithium carbonate...ask your doctor about it...

      October 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Liutgard

      Some Abilify might not be a bad idea either...

      October 6, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Yet another atheist supporting freedom of religion – just the way it should be. But of course, other believers have to object.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • HotAirAce


      christianity is a cult...

      October 7, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  9. dontcare

    If she knew something about Christianity than she would know not to were the rosary, as it is not a real neckless ( correct me if I am wrong.)

    October 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • John

      You're wrong. It's spelled "necklace."

      October 6, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Amanda

      Exactly a cross probably wouldn't have been a problem but the rosary is something gangs use as well as it is actually not meant to be worn. Ask any catholic church that is a big no no. So she should go to church and learn about what she is wanting to wear.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Jim

      You are wrong. Though most Catholics don't wear it, among many it's like saying, "Look how holy I am."

      October 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Also it is "wear" not "were". No harm, I am not the greatest in grammar either. 🙂

      I do feel that just like in any interpretation of any text or tradition it is up to the individual on how he or she reacts. Also, to be fair she was not wearing a crucfix. The article just says it was a necklace with a cross, not a crucifix.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • *frank*

      Also, you should have used "then," not "than." lol.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • No Wonder

      @dontcare, You really contributed a monstrosity there - in both writing and thinking.

      If you make that many errors while loading the french fry machine at work, it's no wonder that they taste so bad so often.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:46 am |
  10. DCarr

    "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."

    I wonder how he feels about the swastika. After all it was originally a Hindu symbol for Peace, Health and Immortality. Unfortunatley groups have throughout history taken symbols of good and turned them to symbols for oppression. If it is not okay for someone to wear a swastika then it is not okay for someone to wear a rosary.

    October 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Kerry Berger

      I also wonder how he would view a student wearing the Star of David or a Boddhisatva too? Figures the archdiocese would only talk about "Christianity" but of course he means Catholicism.... What a schmuck is Archdiocese Chancellor Rev. Joseph Taphorn....

      October 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm |

    long live the messiah jesus holy divine christtttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

    October 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Anon

      long live the messiah amateratsu holy divine goddess!

      October 6, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  12. Dak

    Is the school anti-Catholic? SUE THE SCHOOL!

    October 6, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  13. Azami

    Typical overreaction.

    October 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  14. D. Guidry

    I remember when my children were in school in the 80's (in Conroe, Tx) they weren't allowed to wear anything with Mickey Mouse or pure white clothes. Mickey Mouse was considered gang affiliation and all white was considered to be promoting the Klu Klux Klan. I personally found it stupid and I find this stupid.

    October 6, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • *frank*

      Loco Plutos pull 187s on wack-azz Mickeys!

      October 6, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  15. Lokomoko

    Did you people know Jesus was a black albino? I tripped out when I learned that.

    October 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  16. Holly Chateau

    HEY! Jesus Did not GIVE UP his SINS for US. He DIED for OUR SINS. Jesus never sinned and he NEVER will!

    October 6, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Igor

      Wasn't his sacrifice what we'd call today a suicide by police?

      October 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Sue

      Good one, Igor. I know where you're going with that.

      October 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  17. Steve

    No easy answers here.

    October 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  18. Theo

    I was raised Catholic and I was always told that the rosary is not something to wear; it's not jewelry

    October 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  19. Larry

    The necklace of the cross/rosary is no more illegal than the dress of Islam. Both are protected as their personal religion. And for those of us that do not wear anything of such also have that right of religious expression. This is not the school, or the state, but a person and their religious preference. The school should be chastised for state interference in religion.

    October 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Igor

      Agreed. I'm full blown atheist and couldn't care less about heavenly delights promised by any worldly religion. Moreover religion should be kept out of school, however personal expressions of faith is no one else's business. If you want to pray to Melek Tawus or Jesus, or wear religious attire more power to you, as long as it does not represent a hazard. Not sure if it did here. Gangs are known for using rosaries but the school is likely overreacting. I recall some issue with the Crypts and the Bloods when I was in High School and they simply told us to avoid wearing too much red or black.

      October 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • So

      So, if a person is actually a pagan witch it would be OK with the child shows up to school dressed like one? I wonder if that would mean Native Americans can finally in their native dress too.

      October 6, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Igor

      Yes, knock yourself out, unless there is a dress code. All or nothing is a good rule.

      October 6, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Kosher Kow

      how is a rosary any more gang related than a certain color t-shirt? if it's against the dress code, then its against the dress code... why read between lines that were never written?

      October 6, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  20. Lokomoko

    Dont get mad I'm only being real this girl's just a major attention wh-ore, lol!

    October 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Burnz

      She is catholic after all.....

      October 6, 2011 at 8:54 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.