The Ottawa Citizen appears incapable or unwilling to provide the religion experts with challenging questions. The latest question concerns the wording on t-shirts worn to school. The question is general but is inspired by the controversy about whether a Nova Scotia student was entitled to wear a t-shirt with the slogan, “Life Is Wasted Without Jesus” to school. The controversy is over but not for the Ottawa Citizen, it seems, because the question for this Saturday is “Should students be allowed to proclaim their religion on a T-shirt at school?”
As usual, Roman Catholic priest Geoffrey Kerslake takes the opportunity to quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says,
The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in religious and moral matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of man. But the exercise of freedom does not entail the putative right to say or do anything (CCC, n.1747).
Reading the advice of a Catholic priest is always painful; however, the lack of clarity in the CCC sentence is equally painful.
For Rick Reed, a senior pastor at the Metropolitan Bible Church, the issue is not t-shirts but ideas:
I side with those who value freedom of speech when it comes to religious beliefs. Even on campus. Or I should say, especially on campus. School is meant to be a place where meaningful ideas are explored and expressed. If religious ideas are expelled from the discussion, our students are the losers.
Rabbi Reuven Bulka points out,
proclaiming religion at school. It “offends” so many people, and makes them feel uncomfortable. Just as an aside, as often as I hear the words “I am offended,” I really have no clue what this means. If it is the sense of objecting, then why not just say — I object to this? To anger, displease, annoy, provoke, all are covered by this term, but to be offended, there needs to be an offence.
and goes on to ask,
What offence is there in a T-Shirt?
Two years ago, while picking up some groceries, I was wearing one of my [favourite pro-atheist t-shirts] and became an unexpected participant in a brief war of the world views. A Goliath of a man, wearing a Bible Camp shirt, glanced at my godless garb. We locked eyes and he advanced toward me. Seconds before impact, he changed course, emitting a sound which I hoped was only a grunt.