Prayer-Soldier writes "
On 21 May 10, FOX23 News reported that Raymond Hosier, 13, was suspended from Oneida Middle School in Schenectady, NY for wearing a rosary. Hosier said that he started wearing the rosary in remembrance of his older brother Joey who was struck and killed by car back in 2005 and for his uncle who recently died of cancer.
The rosary is viewed by Christians as a tool to guide prayer and contemplate God. While the rosary is most commonly associated with Catholics, it is prayed by many non-Catholics as well. The beads of the rosary are used to guide prayers said while reflecting upon the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The rosary is also considered to be a reminder and comfort of faith. Many carry the rosary, even though they do not necessarily know how to pray it.
To education officials, the rosary has a different meaning. The symbol of devotion to God has been identified as a gang symbol. Schools prohibit the wearing of gang symbols as part of the effort to suppress the detrimental impacts of gangs upon students. According to a San Antonio Police Department Gang Awareness hand book, “The use of colored rosary beads and other religious articles have also been noted. These are subtle indicators of gang membership and are often hard to notice if you are not looking for them. With the introduction of strict dress codes and the use of uniforms in the school systems these type of indicators seem to be favored by the gangsters.”
Hosier was quoted by FOX23 News as saying, “I was just mad they were suspending me for rosary beads and I told them I wasn't in a gang." A 16 May 08, “USA Today” report related that, “A similar case involving two students in New Caney, Texas, who were prohibited from wearing rosaries because they were considered gang-related ended up in a court in 1997. The judge ruled in favor of the boys, calling the school policy vague.”
A 16 Sep 10 FOX News report also related a story of a Texas teen that was told she could not wear a rosary because, “the Catholic prayer beads are a gang symbol.”
According to a 21 May 10 Belief.net blog, “Most of us know that rosaries aren't intended to be worn as jewelry -- but that hasn't stopped countless young people (and a lot of adults) from adopting them as necklaces. They're even being marketed that way by Dolce & Gabbana.”
According to a 15 May 10 KENS5 report, another middle school student had his rosary confiscated because it was cited as being gang related. The report stated, “A spokesperson with the Texas City Independent School District contends the policy is designed to protect all children whether they’re part of a gang or not.” The report quoted the District's Public Information Officer, Melissa Tortorici, as saying, "It’s about any item or accessory that’s been linked to gang activity."
It is an irony that a symbol of Christian faith is associated with the evil of gangs and subsequently becomes a legally sanctioned target for suppression. The question becomes whether this will become the rational for suppressing all symbols of faith.
"If I were Satan, seeking to separate the children of God from their Creator, I would find ways to suppress reminders of faith, divert them with temptations, entice their leaders to sin, sow divisions amongst them so they would not follow His commandment to love one another, and I would send false prophets to confuse them in their faith.” - Prayer Soldier
Cited Articles and Posts
FOX23News (21 May 10)
USA Today (16 Mar 08)
FOXNews.com (16 Sep 08)
SanAntonio.gov (Not Dated)
Belief.net (21 May 10)
KENS5.com (15 May 10)