Christianity Sikh Minister Supports Right To Wear Crucifix

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[FONT=Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Sans-Serif]Sikh Minister Supports Right of UK School Girl to Wear Crucifix to School[/FONT]

By John-Henry Westen
DERBY, UK, December 8, 2005 ( - The news that a 16-year-old UK school girl was suspended for wearing a crucifix at a school where Sikh religious articles are permitted has sparked the ire of the Sikh community as well as the Christian community. Sikh Minister Sardarni Sahiba Gurumeet Kaur Khalsa told "It is the height of wrongful discrimination to disallow Christian students to wear a crucifix, while yet allowing Sikh students to wear a kara (a religious steel bracelet)."

Deputy head teacher Howard Jones of Sinfin Community School in Derby attempted, in a three hour discussion, to convince student Sam Morris to remove her crucifix. After the 16-year-old remained resolute in refusing to remove her crucifix Jones suspended her. Jones said, "It was only at the end of that that I reluctantly had to exclude her for a day."

Jones said the wearing of the crucifix violates the schools ban on jewellery. However, UK Tory MP and noted Christian MP Ann Widdecombe told UK papers that the decision was "crazy" and said Jones was "utterly ignorant" if he believes the crucifix to be just jewellery.

Jones explained that the Sikh religious articles are permitted because Sikh faith requires them. "We are very comfortable with our policy and believe we are being even-handed and fair. Christianity does not require followers to wear a specific symbol."

However, the Minister of Divinity of Sikh Dharma who contacted explained that the action of the school against Morris was the "height of wrongful discrimination" since "I hold her commitment to wear her crucifix sacred in the same way that I choose to uphold my commitment to wear my kara each day." Minister Khala continued, "Ultimately, these kinds of outward reminders are symbols of our constant striving to remember God in all that we do. I ardently pray that this school may learn to appreciate and give encouragement to students who have learned the value of commitment in their lives."

Gregory Carlin, an activist associated with the group Rights of the Scottish Child, has successfully fought UK school bans on Muslim head scarves and also a recent school ban on girls wearing skirts
In an interview, Carlin told that the school's actions violated UK law which specifically prohibits schools from discriminating against religious dress by enforcing uniform codes. "There is no lawful basis for exclusion or suspension in the UK for wearing clothes or symbols related to mainstream religions," Carlin said.

Carlin will be contacting the Department of Education in London to express "grave concerns that Christians are being prohibited from expressing their faith while other groups are not."


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