12.16.2009

When is it Religion and When is it Prejudice?

A story in the Guardian describes:
Judges today ruled that one of Britain's most successful faith schools had racially discriminated against a 12-year-old boy who was refused admission because the school did not recognise him as Jewish....M's mother converted from Catholicism to Judaism under a non-Orthodox authority, meaning the Chief Rabbi does not recognise her as Jewish...."The majority held that JFS had directly discriminated against M on grounds of his ethnic origins."...the judges did not consider the Chief Rabbi to be racist.
It happened in Great Britain and not in the U.S. so there is nothing here to speak of, legally. But having read _Holy Hullabaloos_ recently I was left with a vacant spot in the dialog. And when I read this story I was reminded of it.

When does religion become prejudice? The panel of judges deliberately stuck in a disclaimer to stop people like me from yapping about it. I don't think it should stop me. Largely because it doesn't make sense.

The parents got married and to keep her husband happy, the woman became an official member of her husband's faith. But when they sent their child to a school run by a similar-but-not-identical faith group, he was judged racially-cum-religiously impure which is OK if you're of the similar-but-not-identical faith group.

It reminds me of the job application process at several conservative Christian schools that asks you to "Describe how and when you were saved." It isn't part of Christian doctrine that adults have a non-baptismal-saving (I love hyphens tonight) ordeal in order to be Christian. The official description of Christianity is described by the Nicene Creed as "one baptism for the remission of sins..." so the job application contains an odd requirement. Perhaps even un-Christian.

Sorry.

What bothers me is that in the U.S. we must allow the free exercise of religious beliefs when they interfere with inculcating the faculties of reason and judgment in our young. Luckily, the young are able to withstand most of it the way they withstand the onslaught of education in general.

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