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. tokencode

    Yet another example of schools making a rediculous blanket response to information. We don't expect our kids to read and write though, why would we expect school administrations to think?

    October 7, 2011 at 3:37 am |
  2. atroy

    "....how he gave up all his sins for us." ??? I'm an atheist and even I know how far off scripture that is.

    October 7, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  3. M in Oz

    So will they now be a Christian and sue? Kids shouldn't be wearing necklaces to school anyway with the danger of choking on playground equipment.

    October 7, 2011 at 2:27 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I guess you signed the peti'tion to ban Tag and Dodge-ball.

      October 7, 2011 at 3:27 am |
  4. CWM

    I say ban all religious items from PUBLIC schools. I don't care what cult you're part of, as long as I don't have to see it in public. Religion has already cause too much trouble to continue to allow it to be freely practiced.

    October 7, 2011 at 2:11 am |
  5. edvhou812

    Can we just sweep the streets and kill all the gangs? They can represent in the ground while worms eat them.

    October 7, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  6. ems

    Hi Reality! Prove He doesn't exist! You probably think you are open minded and diverse.

    October 7, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Jimtanker


      You're another tard that doesn't understand logic. The onus of proof is on the person making the claim. That would be the person who believes in magical sky fairies.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • cheese


      You're a tard who doesn't understand the meaning of irony.

      Christians make a claim that a god exists.

      Atheists ALSO make a claim, but theirs is that gods don't exist.

      So, the onus is ALSO on Atheists to prove that there is no supernatural being.

      You arrogant "liberated" idiots really disgust all decent, tolerant people. How is it that the notion of tolerance – to you – only applies to those who agree with you? Ahh, I sure love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.


      An atheist who can actually shut his mouth

      October 7, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • Jimtanker

      NO cheese. We are making a counter claim. Or do you not understand that?

      Besides, not all atheists say that. I say that there is insufficient evidence to believe in a god, therefore I choose not to believe in one.

      The difference between the religious and the skeptic is that a skeptic will change his mind when confronted with evidence. This can’t be said for most the religious nuts out there.

      October 7, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Jim, you can only make a counter claim when the first person makes his or her initial claim. That is basic debate 101. If a Faithful states that there is a God, then it is the same as a Atheist stating that there is not a God. Both are making the initial claims.

      October 7, 2011 at 3:30 am |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      The atheist position is the rejection of the believer's claim because they don't provide evidence to justify the claim. "Claims without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

      October 7, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      The Faithful position is the rejection of the non-believer's claim because they don't provide evidence to justify the claim.

      See, neat huh 🙂

      October 7, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Your "logic" only works with those that do not actually use logic.
      Atheists do not "choose" to not believe in a god anymore than they choose to not believe in fairies. I do not claim that there is no god. I just claim that any such god is completely irrelevant since it apparently has no connection with my universe. Maybe you have some kind of undetectable connection with this god that no one else can perceive. I cannot prove that you don't, nor do I have any reason to try. I also have no particular reason to care about your god unless you try to inflict it upon me in some way.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  7. Stella

    The rosary is not meant to be worn as jewelry.

    October 7, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • TheTruth72

      Can you show me this in the Bible? Can you show me in the Bible where it states that people prayed the rosary or of its existence? Let's start showing others what it is like to have the heart of Jesus instead of worrying about earthly things.

      October 7, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  8. Tex71

    If we allow hijabs in school then we should allow rosaries too, and pentagram necklaces as well.
    Wearing a rosary is no different from wearing a hijab or a pentagram.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Tex71

      That said, there can be no doubt that your Tea Party types would scream bloody murder if a PTA mom wore a burqa to a school meeting. Personally I think burqas are just as sweaty, ridiculous, and colossally stupid as Tea Partiers.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Tea Party does not deal with Social Issues. Mostly just issues dealing with Taxes.

      October 7, 2011 at 3:31 am |
    • Woof

      You might want to listen to your tea freak heroes a bit closer, Mark. They are heavily into the Religious Right theocracy gig. Have you not been paying attention?

      October 7, 2011 at 3:37 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"They are heavily into the Religious Right theocracy gig. Have you not been paying attention?"

      I take it you have been watching Keith Keith Olbermann's new show huh. Try listening to more than one news source and stop believing everything one side of the news media tells you.

      October 7, 2011 at 3:55 am |
  9. Nickii

    I noticed that on the third paragraph, it says "I'm thinking of how Jesus died on the cross and how he gave up all his sins for us"but Jesus didn't give up all of HIS sins for us because he doesn't have sins:P it's "he gave up his life for OUR sins."

    October 6, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Pick your words – his /ours – it doesn't mater 'cause the probability of there being any gods is virtually zero and The Babble is a pile of crap. Believers are just playing the world's largest fantasy role playing game – not based on any facts at all – and quibbling over the rules of the game is a great waste of time.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • Tex71

      It is in bad taste to purchase and wear publicly symbols of religious faith before having learned the basic rudiments of that faith.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  10. Reality

    The gifts of Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

    So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rules of your religion or any good rules of living as gracious and good human beings.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • Nickii

      look at my post above.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  11. Pierre Chenier

    Perhaps it's time for some gang to wear Burkas? Or maybe Kirpans? Total freedom of religious expression for others, total ban on Christians.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  12. Sunshine 100

    The un-asked question is: what signals or message does the wearer of the rosary & cross send to gang members? How could this endanger a person not affiliated with gangs or gang members?

    October 6, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Tex71

      There should be a way for gang members to identify each other without bothering normal, civilized people. Then they could just shoot each other and get it all over with. I can't decide which is a lower form of quasi-humanity: gang members or Wall Street executives. I think it must be the Wall Street executives but it would be good to put all of them in one place with all the gang members just to compare them side by side. Now as long as I am fantasizing, let's give baseball bats to the gang members and Tazers to the execs. Party on! I would buy tickets to that game.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  13. Reality

    From p. 11-

    Dear Elizabeth,

    A prayer you need to contemplate :

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


    October 6, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  14. Catholicgirl

    I was always taught that it was inappropriate to wear a rosary...

    October 6, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • goddog

      It's all relative. As a nonbeliever I don't care what you do with a rosary.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Reality

      Yes and no.

      "There is often some controversy over the treatment of the Rosary beads themselves. Because they look very similar to a necklace, some owners wear them around their necks. This adornment is often offensive to true believers in the power of the prayer. It is not always improper to wear the Rosary as a necklace. The beads themselves are a symbol of faith. If one is wearing them as a proclamation of faith, the behavior is condoned. If one is wearing the beads simply as jewelry, they are doing a disservice to those of faith. Some Rosary beads are blessed by the Church. These beads should not be worn around the neck under any circu-mstances and should be used only in prayer."


      October 6, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Nickii

      I was taught that too. I was taught the only time you should wear it is when you're ill or sick and need healing. Not for fashion.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • No Wonder

      Now perhaps you can be taught that it is all superst.itious claptrap.

      October 7, 2011 at 12:49 am |
  15. Bob Hartl

    Way to go!!!

    Get religion the hell out of our schools....get it the hell off our planet.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • goddog

      I agree with your basic sentiment but the more freedoms we take from others the less we can take ourselves. Religion will fizzle out eventually, as it should, hopefully sooner rather than later.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  16. goddog

    Although I am an Atheist who thinks religion is ridiculous, I believe more in a persons right to their own beliefs and expression thereof. To let thousands of years of what the cross means to Christians be hijacked by a recent unfounded rumor is just giving in to the few that choose to use it in such a tasteless manner. Don't punish the majority for what a minority is doing. I can't stand this type of spineless overreaction. Let's vote these people out at any chance. As much as I truly hate religion, this story makes me sick.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  17. Renee Marie Jones

    We fought so hard to end dress codes when I was in high school, now it is all undone in the name of "safety."

    October 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  18. steward

    The cross is an identifying symbol for the Ku Klux Klan. It should be banned from all public places immediately. Right.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Kimberley Kenny

      I agree with you. If a criminal element has high jacked a innocent rosary does not mean that you give in to them and ban it.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  19. tater1993

    Clear violation of rights! Freedom of speach! Guess it only counts if you are an immigrant or of Muslim faith. If you are a Christian American than you offend every one else! ITS BS!!!!! GOD and country should be allowed in school.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Liutgard

      Ok tater, whose God? A non-sectarian Protestant God? Catholic God? Jewish God? Mormon God? What about the God of Islam, who is known as Allah? Or one of the hundreds of gods known to the Hindu? Or Buddha? One of the Norse Gods? All of the Norse Gods? And who will decide which gods get in? Forget it- teach religion at home and in your church. Leave the schools for learning math and science and literature. Heaven knows we have a hard enough time getting the basics in without making time to argue over religion.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Forget it- teach religion at home and in your church. Leave the schools for learning math and science and literature. "

      What about all of the other social groups. All the Pride groups. African American Pride, Latino Pride, Gay Pride. All the scouting and 4H groups. ROTC, I guess in your book they would out of the door as well.

      ..please also the Young Democrats and Young Republican groups. gone gone gone...

      You see, when you target one group you have to be ready to target them all, even the ones that do not offend you. It will be the Apple 1984 commercial with everyone wearing gray and just sitting there.

      To remove one is just a chipping at the concept of a truly diverse society.

      October 7, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • HellBent


      That argument doesn't hold up since religion and government have a unique relationship as defined by our consti.tution. There's nothing in the consti.tution about the government not respecting a particular pride group. You're inventing a slippery slope where there isn't one.

      October 7, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”That argument doesn't hold up since religion and government have a unique relationship as defined by our consti.tution. “

      Which is and has been in debate for over two hundred years with each trying to insist that their view of the Separation of the state from the Church, is the only true definition. As a person of Faith that holds that the State can not create their own church and force us to become members, I just might see it the same way you do.

      But, I am getting sleepy and I need to head out but does not the “Free Exercise Clause” sorta take the steam out of your challenge because it will be argued that the simple necklace does not offer any danger to another student?

      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”

      >>>”You're inventing a slippery slope where there isn't one.”

      That is why they call it a slippery slope H-Bent, none see it coming until all have fallen down the hill. It is the same as why the NAACP can not get into saying the Klan should not march because they know that tomorrow it will or could be them that are prohibited.

      But if you do not see the slippery slope, check out the news articles on more Liberal schools and colleges that have ended and closed their ROTC programs.

      I recommend the poem “The Hangman.” Either way, much respect on your post dude or dudette 🙂


      October 7, 2011 at 3:50 am |
  20. toomanyids

    Ban all religious symbols from the public schools. No exceptions. Keep it at home.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • mermaid

      are you outta your mind?! if some child wants to be religious, let her do it! You obviously dont care!

      October 6, 2011 at 10:51 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.