Christianity and its symbols as philosophy, not religion
in the long history of Italy, the crucifix has become a “historical and cultural” symbol that now possesses an “identity-linked” rather than an exclusively religious value. Furthermore, in its “identity-linking” guise, the crucifix stands for “the liberty and freedom of every person, the declaration of the right of man, and ultimately the modern secular state.”
“The logical mechanism of exclusion of the unbeliever is inherent in any religious conviction.” But not in Christianity, said to be the “sole exception” because at the heart of it is the idea of charity, glossed as “respect for one’s fellow human beings.”This respect or tolerance overrides any specifically religious doctrine, however central or basic. “In Christianity even the faith in an omniscient god is secondary in relation to charity” (again, who knew?); and because this is so, Christianity can not properly be understood as excluding anyone from its protection or its precincts. Therefore, the crucifix (the chain of reasoning is reaching its destination) is everyone’s symbol, says “welcome” to everyone, for it is “the universal sign of the acceptance of and respect for every human being as such.” Therefore, having crucifixes in the classroom is perfectly O.K. and should distress no one: “… beyond its religious meaning, the crucifix symbolized the principles and values which formed the foundation of democracy and western civilization, and…its presence in classrooms was justifiable on that account.”
the crucifix “may have various meanings and serve various purposes” and “could be interpreted differently from one person to another.”
Decision March 18, 2011 by the European Court of Human Rights Lautsi and Others v. Italy, ruling that crosses in Italian schoolrooms do not violate rights to religious freedom. Quoted fromNew York Times March 28, 2011, 6:42 pm:Crucifixes and Diversity: The Odd Couple By STANLEY FISH.