Sunday, November 02, 2008

Conundrum for Christianists: Jesus on Halloween

This story, about a middle-school boy sent home from school for dressing up as Jesus for Halloween, was priceless. Why priceless? Because of the conundrum it poses for Christianists.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you're probably aware that Christianists have been gnashing their teeth, rending their garments, and lamenting to high heaven the intolerance of school officials towards personal displays of Christianity at public schools. From wearing a cross necklace to invoking the Christian God in commencement addresses, Christians have complained about the persecution of Christian students at public schools by efforts on the part of school administrators to protect the separation of church and state. So, here we have a young boy dressing up as Christ and heading off to school. And what happens? He gets sent home because his outfit was deemed "offensive." But here's the question: Offensive in what way? Was it offensive to church-state separation advocates because it brought Christian symbolism into the school? Or was it offensive to Christians because it was a Halloween costume and mixed Jesus in with all the other ghouls, witches, clowns, and pirates?

I tend to agree with Oyster, to whom I owe a hat tip for pointing me to the story, that this kid should be able to dress in whatever costume he wants to as long as he's not violating public nudity laws (i.e. tarzan costumes and/or speedo swimsuits) or advocating messages of violence or hate (i.e. KKK hoods or NAZI swastika uniforms). In this case, he was well clad and wasn't advocating any hateful messages. So, I say, especially on a day when costumes are encouraged, that he should have been left alone. But I'm very curious to hear whether Christianists who think that dressing up as Jesus on Halloween is blasphemous and offensive would agree. Let's see how many of these god-fearing, righteous folks, who complain about unfairly persecuting Christians for displaying symbols of Christianity in public schools, come to this boy's defense. One would hope so, if these folks really do believe in protecting religious speech in public schools; but I'm not holding my breath.

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