Friday News Roundup: Is going green the new religion?

NEWSThis week, the E.U. bans crosses in public schools and a U.K. court rules that a company is guilty of religious discrimination for violating an employee’s belief in climate change.

First: the crucifixes. In what remains one of Europe’s more religious countries (although still less so than the US), crosses can no longer be displayed in classrooms. The European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously Tuesday that the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools violates religious and education freedoms (Associated Press reports).

“In a decision that could force a review of the use of religious symbols in government-run schools across Europe, the court ordered Italy to pay a euro 5,000 ($7,390) fine to a mother in northern Italy who fought for eight years to have crucifixes removed from her children’s public school classrooms. The Italian government said it would appeal.”

The court released a statement saying that displaying religious symbols “restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions, and the right of children to believe or not to believe” (CNN reports).

Many are not pleased.

The Vatican denounced the ruling, saying, “It seems as if the court wanted to ignore the role of Christianity in forming Europe’s identity, which was and remains essential” and politicians are vowing to fight back.

Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of the Italian dictator, said ”We are in the process of creating a Europe with neither identity nor traditions.”

The ruling isn’t a hit on Italy or Catholicism. Though the cross remains a potent religious and cultural symbol, part of Italy’s history, displaying it in public schools is inconsistent with the E.U.’s increasingly secular stance (think France’s take on the burqa).Bloggers had plenty to say about the matter:

In other news, climate change is officially a religion in the UK (well at least when it comes to workplace discrimination). Tim Nicholson, an executive at Grainger plc, claimed he was fired because of his philosophical beliefs about climate change and the environment. So he took his company to court.

They argued his beliefs were political rather than religious, and therefore they were not liable.

But a judge found that “Nicholson’s views on the environment were so deeply held that they were entitled to the same protection as religious convictions, and ruled that an employment tribunal should hear his claim that he was sacked because of his beliefs” (The Guardian reports).

Some feel that this case is ridiculous, that environmentalism can not be considered a religion. That it leads us down a slippery slope where employees can claim religious discrimination for anything. But maybe it’s a good thing. If similar rulings follow, it will force companies to rethink how they consume energy, moving us closer to the tipping point where conservation is the norm.

The Daily Mail and the Telegraph weigh in.

And one more story. A Muslim doctor interviewing at a clinic in Dallas was told she could not wear her hijab at work, due to their no hat policy – it seems that no matter how often it pops up, issues religious garb are never resolved. The clinic later apologized for the insult. The Associated Press, Reuters and FOX report.

Have a great weekend, and be sure to visit the website for more exciting news!