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When is something a memorial and when is it forcing relgion on someone?

I ask because recently my local stomping grounds had this come up. A senior got upset because a "gay pride" shirt was removed from display due to problems it was causing so she decided she was against a picture of Jesus that had been donated over 30 years ago in memory of a teacher who died in front of her students. This teacher was loved by everyone in the school and all knew of her belief in Christ. She never taught it in class but she let it show by her actions. There is a tag at the bottom of the picture that says "In Memory of". It was also hung in a hall inside the teachers/principals office after the school was remodeled so the general body of students don't see it.

There are many sides to this story and you'd have to make up your own mind if she did it in response to the shirt being removed. Oh and there was also a Pro Life Shirt removed for becoming disruptive but it's never mentioned.

I don't believe in teaching the Bible in class, etc but this has hung at the school for over 30 years and never been a problem. Of course now the ACLU is involved so I"m sure it's coming down but if it does then the house right next to the school has offered to have an outdoor display built and place it in there so that it is seen by everyone. This is NOT a big city school but a small country school so it's unlikely to be vandelized.

I guess I'd like to know when is a memorial a memorial and when is it religion? If a Druid dies and they plant a tree on school property in memory is it religion? What about memory gardens that are planted? Should they be ripped out because someone is allergic to what is planted in them? What about the benches that they do in memory of someone? If someone were to fall and get hurt would they rip them out?

As you can tell this whole thing has me stirred up because when I went to school the painting may have been of Christ but what I saw was this teacher who loved her students. The school secretary was actually in her class that day and was the one who ran down the hallway yelling for help. To her it reminds her of the love she had. So yes it is a picture of Christ but it's also a Memorial of the love she had for her "flock"


Asked by baconbits at 4:24 PM on Nov. 14, 2013 in Religious Debate

Level 26 (27,144 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (21)
  • 30 years ago it was an appropriate memorial. You an not just the pasts actions and standards on the views of todays world.

    They could have but the fact is that they did not.

    So a teacher is a druid and every one knows it and the teacher dies and as a memorial a tree is planted in her honor. What is the difference?
    A depiction of Jesus is just another picture like any other in the school. For those that it holds a religious feeling and for the others it is just some picture. Just as you say this tree that is sacred to some is just the same as any other tree. for any one who does not believe in that religion.
    This white ox who is sacred to some is just another white cow to every one else.
    In each case the object holds religious significance to someone.
    It either is or it is not.

    Answer by Dardenella at 1:36 AM on Nov. 15, 2013

  • That does bring up the question of should we remove cows from books because of some religions as well. After all no religion in schools means all displays not just Christian.

    A tree is a plant, and a thing that supplies wood. A cow is an animal, and a thing that supplies food and clothing. Jesus is a specific person who stands for a specific thing. There is no alternate use Jesus. Trying to equate the two is like trying to equate a chair to Barack Obama - two entirely different concepts completely.

    It always goes back to religious privilege, and people who are so used to the rules not applying to them, they throw a tantrum when someone finally gets around to enforcing them.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 5:17 PM on Nov. 14, 2013

  • A better memorial would have been a painting of the teacher. Because really when it comes down to it, a painting of Jesus, is a painting of a god, and religious symbols have no place in public schools unless it's for a social studies project on world religions.

    Besides, comparing a tree to a painting of a religious figure is silly. And speaking of trees, they could've just planted a tree in her name with a plaque or a stone placed beneath it as part of the memorial, or named the school library after her, or whatever. I guess I still don't understand why a picture of Jesus is so fitting for a memorial. So she was Christian, I still don't think it's an appropriate memorial in a school.

    Answer by anime_mom619 at 5:30 PM on Nov. 14, 2013

  • So a teacher is a druid and every one knows it and the teacher dies and as a memorial a tree is planted in her honor. What is the difference?

    A tree is not an endorsement of a religion. Planting a tree for a druid would be the equivalent of donating to a homeless shelter in the name of a Christian. Just because you want to try and make them comparable to win your argument, does not make them comparable. If you want something comparable it would be a Buddha statue for a Buddhist or a picture of Brighid for a Druid - both of which would ALSO be inappropriate.

    I can't decide if your suggestion that Druids worship trees in the same way Christians worship Jesus is an act of ignorance or viciousness. Feel free to let us know which.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 9:08 AM on Nov. 15, 2013

  • Your understanding of Buddhism is a little off, OP. Most Buddhists don't consider Buddha to be a god, so they don't worship him. And there are plenty of Christians who bow down and pray before a cross or statue of Mary and Jesus. They are not be worshiping the physical statue, but rather what it represents.

    A tree is really no comparison. It is not a unique symbol that everyone associates automatically with druidism. A pic of Christ is. A cross is. A star of David is. A pentagram is. A statue of Buddha is.

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 11:52 AM on Nov. 15, 2013

  • a picture of Christ to represent a woman who everyone loved who died in whenever someone dies we should hang a picture of their God in order to represent them? i just dont see how anyone thought of that...its so odd. even if it was allowed back then, its a dumb memorial imo. "oh she was a Christian (like most ppl 30 years ago) lets hang a picture of Jesus!" sounds like they werent honoring her, but rather her religion.

    why dont they make a mural in the hallway of her old classroom, maybe one of the subject she taught, and dedicate it to her? or some other representation of her love for students/teaching, not her love for Jesus. just seems more fitting for the teacher, instead of her faith.

    Answer by okmanders at 12:13 PM on Nov. 15, 2013

  • I've yet to see or hear of any Christian bowing down and worshiping a picture.

    Allow me to direct you to any church on the planet with either a cross or a crucifix behind the altar.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 12:25 PM on Nov. 15, 2013

  • I agree with you they are not worshiping the physical object, as I've stated before. That's not really the point here in the discussion. A picture of Christ is a very symbolic item of the Christian faith. Government funded schools are not supposed to endorse any particular religion, and having this picture out on display for students OR faculty (since you said it was moved to an office) can be perceived as an endorsement.

    And plenty of altars have pictures of Jesus on display, if this is what you're hung up on.


    Answer by anng.atlanta at 1:11 PM on Nov. 15, 2013

  • Also, if you knew Christians

    Really? Your argument is that anyone who disagrees with you on a trivial point has never met a Christian? You keep grasping at this "picture" straw - nobody gives a damn that it's a picture, but what the subject of the picture is. You can't put a religious figure in a public school outside of a history context. Christians all over the world worship visually, because for thousands of years, Christianity dictated that people could not be educated to read and write - they're easier to control when they're stupid, ESPECIALLY if they're women. That's why churches used painted murals and stained glass windows to teach the Bible - it was the original children's picture bible.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 1:24 PM on Nov. 15, 2013

  • Also, are you certain everyone has been fine with it over the past 30 years? Just because no complaints were made doesn't mean they were all happy. Non-Christians have had to put up with a lot of abuse because they didn't have groups like the ACLU to help fight for their rights.

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 2:07 PM on Nov. 15, 2013