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. jwas1914

    An idol is an image, a representation of anything, or a symbol that is an object of passionate devotion, whether material or imagined. Rosaries; or a necklace with a cross on it can be considered an idol since it’s a symbol of worship. But; what does the Bible say about idols? Take note:

    God told the Hebrews “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion…” (Exodus 20:4, 5)

    Moses: when he was up on a mountain receiving God’s commandments the Hebrews lost faith and began to build a “molten statue of a calf. And they began to say: ‘This is your God, oh Israel, who led you up out of the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:4) What was God’s response to such betrayal? About three thousand men died that day by the hand of God for worshipping an idol. (Exodus 32:28)

    Early Christians: The Apostle Paul warned the congregation of Corinthian “Therefore, my beloved ones, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14) The Apostle John also said “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)

    How serious is it for those that worship idols? According to Revelation 21:8 and 22:14, 15 it categorize idolaters (Idol worshippers) as “those without faith, murderers, fornicators, and those practicing spiritism;” the book of John made it clearly when he said “God is a spirit, and those worshipping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) As you can see John did not say to use idols to worship God but to worship him with spirit and truth. This little girl could have avoided this problem if she as well as everyone that use rosaries or any worshipping symbol would follow these simple biblical instructions. This is why it’s highly important that we read our Bible daily.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • MarkinFL

      ummmmm, OK. Thank you.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Of course, you have to define the word "worship" while you're at it too.

      I have a statue of a deity on my altar at home. I have been accused of idolatry because of this. I can honestly tell you that I do not worship that statue. Or my pentacle necklace. Or even the gods of my belief. I am not exactly the worshiping kind.

      However, I've seen a number of people who label themselves as Christian who would seem, to an outside eye, to worship their bibles, their pastors, the cross, the pope, any number of "idols".

      October 6, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  2. RollingHillz

    CNN should probably research this a little further. Fremont and Omaha are two completely different cities with two different school districts. Close in proximity, but definitely seperate. Small detail of the story, yes. But let's just be accurate when reporting news to the nation please.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Let me get this straight. You are asking a reporter to get the details correct? HAHAHAHAH....We'll see Jesus walking down Broadway first.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  3. Bud

    How stupid on the schools take of this. I doubt just because they band wearing anything with religious symbols on it doesn't stop anyone from still being a gang member.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • BRC

      They don't think restricting the wearing of gang symbols will reduce gang membership, the hope is generally two fold-

      1) That those who are gang affilliated will be more easily identified (gang members not really known for followign rules after all)
      2) If there are fewer visible gang affiliations you can hope to reduce the number of gang related confrontations (this is generally a concern when there are known violent gangs involved, if rival gangs in an area have gotten to the point that they fight on sight of another group, you don't want any accidental incidents breaking out.).

      Someone made a joke about only allowing beige earlier, but in places where violence is really bad that's not always a joke. There can be areas where some colors aren't safe and aren't allowed. It may be an overreaction, but officials generally go with the better safe then sorry mentallity.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  4. Randy S

    I sure hope gangs dont make bras a part of gang related wear, Lets see the schools tell irls and women they can't wear those because they are gang related attire.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • W247

      Would LOVE it if they banned bra's... stupid things.

      October 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  5. Will they never learn?

    Typical school authoritarian over-reaction.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  6. JeanJean

    Bet this school permits the muslins their head scarves.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • BRC

      If they had active police provided intelligence that it was being used as a gang symbol I bet they wouldn't.

      Also I think people are skipping something here- IT'S OMAHA. I realize Nebraska isn't exactly in the Bible belt, but it's not a haven for deviant atheists and miscreant pagans. It's freakin Nebraska. They take their churchin' seriously there. HOWEVER, because they are kind of out in the middle of nowhere, and there is a large element of bored adolescents and young adults, there are very real crime problems (I have family from Omahae, not just pulling this out of the air). SO, it is pretty likely that there is a safety issue, and the school is trying to deal with it, not very likely their on an anti-christian movement.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Jamie K

      That's correct BRC. The majority of the area is pretty religious. The gang's here have been getting worse and schools and other businesses are cracking down and adopting zero tolerance policies regarding gang affiliated clothing etc. I would also like to point out that the school is allowing her to wear her shirt with a cross, bracelet with a cross, and even a regular crucifix chain necklace.... just not a rosary. It's not discrimination against Catholics either. There is a HUGE catholic population here. She and her parents are overreacting. On a side note though, there ar pretty healthy pagan, metaphysical, and atheist populations here too. 🙂

      October 6, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • BRC

      @Jamie K,
      I find that many pagan, alternative belief, and atheist areas are pretty heatlhy. I think it's from the extra sleep we get on Sundays.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  7. rgl

    So the school does not want this because of gangs and other criminal elements are using the cross and they say it is for 'our" safety? How so? Have not for hundreds of years many have died by the hands of those who used the cross to hide who they are? Wolves in sheep's clothing? Pretty soon we won't be able to demonstrate our faith publicly anywhere....How lame!!

    October 6, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • myweightinwords

      For the safety of the child.

      Consider this: A gang is using the rosary as a symbol that identifies their members. A rival gang member sees a child wearing a rosary, and has a beef with the gang and chooses to send a message by (or their initiation includes) killing the child wearing the rosary. Or r.apes and beats her.

      So yes, if the local gangs are using rosaries or religious imagery to identify itself, the school is well within it's rights to forbid it in order to keep the violence off their property.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  8. LivinginVA

    So do they also ban the following?

    Gang Affiliated Sports Team Apparel or Logos

    Ø Atlanta Braves: People- initial “A” for Almighty

    Ø Boston Celtics: Spanish Cobras – Colors – Green/Black

    Ø British Knights: Crips – initials “B” & “K” for Blood Killers

    Ø Burger King: Crips – initials “B” & “K” for Blood Killers

    Ø Charlotte Hornets: 4 Corner Hustlers – initials “C” & “H”

    Ø Charlotte Hornets: Imperial Gangsters – Colors – Black/Pink

    Ø Chicago Bulls: Vice Lords, Latin Counts, Mickey Cobras – colors – Black/Red

    Ø Chicago Bulls: Black Peace Stone Nation – “Bulls” stands for “Boy You Look Like Stone”

    Ø Chicago Black Hawks: Vice Lords – Colors – Black/Red

    Ø Chicago Cubs: Spanish Cobras – initial “C”

    Ø Cincinnati Reds: 4 Corner Hustlers – put a “4″ next to the “C” and an “H” inside of the “C”

    Ø Colorado Rockies: Simon City Royals – sometimes place a white “S” in front of the “C”

    Ø Columbia Knights: Bloods – initials “C” & “K” for Crip Killer

    Ø Converse All Star shoe: People – five point star in the logo of label

    Ø Dallas Cowboys: People – five point star

    Ø Denver Broncos: Black Disciples switch “DB” for initials “BD”

    Ø Detroit Lions: Gangster Disciples – Colors – Black/Blue

    Ø Detroit Tigers: Folks – initial “D” for Disciples

    Ø Detroit Tigers: Gangster Disciples – Colors: Black/Blue

    Ø Duke: Folks – Colors – Black/Blue; “Duke” = “Disciples Utilizing Knowledge Everyday”

    Ø Georgetown: Folks – initial “G” for Gangster

    Ø Georgetown Hoyas: Gangster Disciples – Colors: Black/Blue; “Hoyas” stands for “Hoover’s On Your A$$” (Larry Hoover)
    Ø Georgia Tech: Folks – initial “G” for Gangster

    Ø Indiana University: Imperial Gangsters – initials “I” & “U” overlapping appear to make the shape of a pitchfork showing “Folks” affiliation

    Ø Kansas City Royals: Folks – Colors: Black/Blue

    Ø Kansas City Royals: Simon City Royals – “Royals”

    Ø LA Dodgers: Gangster Disciples – initial “D” for Disciples

    Ø LA Kings: Latin Kings – “Kings”

    Ø LA Kings: People – “Kings” stands for “Kill Inglewood Nasty Gangsters”

    Ø Los Angeles Raiders: Folks – “Raiders” stands for “Ruthless A$$ Insane Disciples Running Sh1t”

    Ø Los Angeles Raiders: People – “Raiders” stands for “Raggedy A$$ Iced Donuts Everywhere Running Scared”: used to “Disrespect” Folks
    Ø Louis Vitton Cap: Vice Lords Initials “LV” reversed

    Ø Miami Hurricanes: People – Color -Orange

    Ø Michigan: Initial “M” for Maniac Latin Disciples

    Ø Minnesota Twins: Initial “M” for Maniac Latin Disciples

    Ø NY Yankees: Gangster Disciples Colors – Black/Blue/White

    Ø North Carolina Tar Heels: Folks – Colors – Black/Blue

    Ø Nike: Folks – Colors – Black/Blue

    Ø Oakland A’s: Ambrose – initial “A” for Ambrose

    Ø Oakland A’s: Orchestra Albany Initials “O” & “A”

    Ø Oakland A’s: Spanish Cobras – Color – Green

    Ø Orlando Magic: Folks – “Magic” stands for “Maniacs and Gangsters in Chicago”; Colors – Black/Blue represents numerous “Folks” gangs

    Ø Philadelphia Phillies: People – initial “P” for “People”

    Ø Phoenix Suns: Black Peace Stone Nation – initials “P” & “S”

    Ø Pittsburgh Pirates: Colors – Black/Gold for Latin Kings; Bloods – Initial “P”; for Pirus (Bloods)

    Ø San Francisco Giants: Folks – switch initials for “Super Gangster Folk”

    Ø San Francisco Giants: Future Stones Initials “S” & “F” spelled backwards San Francisco (Any) Stone Freaks Initials “S” & “F”

    Ø St. Louis Cardinals: Spanish Vice Lords – red-colored hat

    Ø Starter Symbol: Folks – crack the five point star to disrespect the “People”

    Ø Starter Symbol: People – five point star

    Ø Texas Rangers: People – initial “T” looks like pitchfork pointing down

    Ø University of Illinois: Folks – initials “U” & “I” together appear to be a pitchfork pointing up

    Ø University of Nevada at Las Vegas: (UNLV ) -Vice Lords Colors: Red/Black; “UNLV” backwards stands for “Vice Lords Nation United”

    October 6, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • LivinginVA

      Let's not forget the color combinations: If you are wearing black pants you can't wear a shirt that is blue, red, pink green or white.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Can you wear white in the winter? What about in Florida?

      This whole fashion thing is way beyond me.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Jamie K

      Actually, yes. I can remember back in the early 90s not being able to wear sports related gear to school and other teen hangouts because of the gangs in Omaha. I imagine those rules are still in place.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • LivinginVA

      JamieK: Sorry, I find it silly. We have a gang issue here (suburb of DC). Our dress code is no hats, bandanas, nothing too skimpy or falling off, no obvious gang, drug, alcohol or tobacco symbols. That's it. Maybe our gang members are more observant than the ones out there, but they seem to know who is wearing a Georgetown shirt because they are Georgetown fan and who is wearing it out of gang affiliation.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Jamie K

      It IS silly.

      October 6, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  9. Colin

    It is frightening to think that this little girl may fall in with the wrong crowd. A group that shares violent views, demands everybody conform and threatens dire consequences for those who don't.

    But enough about the Christians, maybe it is just a gang symbol.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • jo

      That's funny!

      October 6, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Catman

      To be perfectly honest, I am more afraid of this girl being taught by someone like you.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Jimtanker

      Of course you would catman. She might learn something and stop believing in fairytails.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Catman

      Very unlikely she would learn anything other than being closed minded to other people's view, Jimtanker. Much like you I'm afraid.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Catman

      BTW - it's fairytales - not fairytails.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Jimtanker

      Yes, I'm so closed minded that I only believe things for which there is evidence. How silly of me.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Catman

      There are many things/ideas in life “we” believe in that doesn’t have evidence to back it up. So yes, I afraid you are being silly. We all have ‘faith’ in one way or another. Again, time to open up your mind just a little and learn.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • MarkinFL

      For example?

      October 6, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Catman

      Global warming
      Abortion is murder
      There is no God
      911 was an inside job
      The moon landings were a hoax
      JFK was murdered by LB Johnson
      Ghost/paranormal activity

      Just to name a few. Topics where there is no ‘direct’ evidence to prove they are true/not true. This leaves it up to the individual to decide what is truth and what is not. As I said, everyone has faith in what they believe is correct.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  10. demetri

    Religious symbols have been co-opted and adopted by gangs for decades. This is nothing new. That being the case, the reasonble thing to do was to have a conversation with the student and her parents to convey their concerns and let the child parents make the final decision and accept the consequences that comes with their decision. They should have also sent out a notice/bulletin to all of the parents regarding the schools concern with symbols that are being used by gangs.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  11. Simple

    Simple. Kill off all of the gang members. I have always advocated the summary execution of anyone involved in a street gang.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • hippypoet

      how about a christian parade? they are on the street, a gang, and evil – i will take your advice and start with these losers...complete waste of society!

      October 6, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Jimtanker

      Sounds like you've been watching the movie "Hobo with a Shotgun" too much. Not that you can watch that movie too much.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  12. BCosier

    Nice to see that we are expected to give up our Freedom and Liberties once again in the interest of "Safety". This is ridicuous and a violation of the First Amendment.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  13. hippypoet

    your stupid... so is the girl, anything religious belongs at home or in your building of WHORship! the idea of modern people truly thinking that a necklace will protect you from evil is just plain laughible...i am laughing while typing this. and i don't care what it symbolizes, its a showing of faith which under law is separate from state and be left that way! stupid fake god whorshippers... i wonder if your knees hurt yet.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Catman

      Perhaps you should open your closed mind a little and stop doing what you are accusing Christians of doing. I feel very sad for you. You have too much hate

      October 6, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Cherie

      I think YOU are the idiot (and not just for your ignorance in the English language). I fully believe and support a separation of church and state, but I don't think that someone wearing a religious article infringes on anyone right to believe what they want. In fact forcing the removal (for whatever reason the school wants to give) violates her religious freedom. She's not going through the school preaching Catholicism. She's wearing a rosary. End of story. It doesn't mean she's in a gang. It doesn't mean she supports gangs. It doesn't mean that she's likely to join a gang.

      And maybe you should get down on your knees once and awhile...

      October 6, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Going down on your knees is one of the greatest pleasures in life. It is better to give than receive.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • hippypoet

      the idea of modern people truly thinking that a necklace will protect you from evil is just plain laughible...i am laughing while typing this. MUHAHAHAHAHAHA..... religion is for morons... see above comments for example. 🙂

      October 6, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Catman

      The idea of you representing the “modern people” is scary.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  14. Jesus

    The school's rationale was that the rosary was being used as a symbol of gang affiliation. Are they speaking about that gang of con men and pedophiles operating out of the Vatican?

    October 6, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Colin

      That's funny. lol The poor kid is torn between a small time gang and a delusional cult.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Cherie

      You are ignorant. The Vatican doesn't corner the market on pedophiles. If you knew absolutely anything about child abuse prevention you would know that pedophiles/abusers seek out positions of trust in the community. They seek out jobs as priests, ministers, teachers, youth group leaders, etc. because people are more likely to trust their kids to be left alone with them. Anyone that thinks that Catholics or the Vatican approve of child abuse are just plain stupid and are showing their hatred towards a faith they do not understand. It's not just Catholics. It's not just priests. But you go on thinking that. I can only hope your kids/family doesn't find out the hard way how stupid you really are.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Good thing the church responded appropriately and turned the priests over to the police. They could have covered it up and shifted the priests around causing the suffering of more an more children to continue for decades. That would have been a real crime!

      October 6, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  15. Jason

    Apparently schools haven't heard of "faith"! You where that rosary and allow in the faith of god to protect you from the danger of gang hoards

    October 6, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Jesus

      Kind of like the Mormon's magic underwear.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Bob

      Jason, um, I think you mean "wear," buddy. Imagine that, a religious zealot who can't spell. You should join the tea party!

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

      Not to mention gang hordes.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  16. optomist

    No good will come of this. It just lends credibility to something we should minimize. But it also gives the school authority over something that should not concern them in the least.

    October 6, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  17. Grumpy

    What goes around comes around. They wouldn't let us wear love beads in school back in the '60s. Narrow minded . . .

    October 6, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  18. K.Hamill

    I was taught that a rosary is not jewelry (it is a set of prayer beads) and wearing it as a necklace is disrespectful. However, I was confused reading this story whether she was wearing a chain w/ a cross that is being called a "rosary" or an actual rosary.

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

      Since so many people where a symbol of suffering as jewelry it is pretty obvious that the adornment in question is indeed a Rosary, however improperly it is being used.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • MarkinFL

      wear not where... :/

      October 6, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Jamie K

      It was a rosary. She can still wear regular cross/crucifx chain necklaces, bracelets and her shirts that are covered with crosses.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  19. hexman13

    So gangs have more influence then the average citizen. They must love hearing how much power they have over so called
    intelligent people.

    October 6, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  20. run run as fast as you can!

    you'll never catch me i'm the ginger bread man!

    got ya...DAMN!

    October 6, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Doc

      Wow...that was stupid.

      October 6, 2011 at 10:11 am |
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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.