Plein Air

Ash Wednesday "discrimination" is a Tempest in a Teapot

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The gist of the story - a young boy in Utah with an Ash Wednesday cross on his forehead was told by his public school teacher that face painting was against school policy and he would have to remove it. The boy unsuccessfully tried to explain what it was and was forced to wipe it off. I believe that the teacher was simply doing her job and following school policy. Only she and God know the intent of her heart, but I would be surprised if she had any intent to offend or discriminate against that kid. If the school policy did not have wording exempting religious reasons for face painting, then the school policy was wrong, but the teacher was not. School policy should have specifically excluded certain things such as the Ash Wednesday cross from the rules, but as far as I know it did not. She did nothing wrong that I can see unless not knowing about Ash Wednesday is somehow wrong. Unless you grew up around Catholics or are one, the odds are you didn't know about it either. I remember as an adult, telling a friend he had some "dirt" on his forehead only to learn what it really was.

https://www.ksl.com/article/46506766/bountiful-boy-forced-to-remove-ash-cross-says-he-forgives-his-teacher

This event, to me is a prime example of how our society is too quick to judge, to quick find fault, too quick to run to the news or social media when we are offended by something, rather than talking to the person who offended us IN PRIVATE and working things out if we can. I think that whoever it was that broadcast this to the world was not justified in doing so. I feel they did something far worse than the innocent error on the part of the teacher, and yes, I realize that I am judging that persons actions. I would be very surprised if the 7 year old kid was the one who turned it into a national news event. 

What we should do if we are offended or mistreated by someone:

https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1998/08/if-any-man-offend-not?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1996/08/the-spiritual-hazards-of-faultfinding?lang=eng

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30 minutes ago, Plein Air said:

I believe that the teacher was simply doing her job and following school policy.

My thoughts completely. 

My fear is that Catholics will use this to play the victim card and blame those evil Mormons. And I don't even know if the teacher was LDS! 

Edited by MormonGator

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50 minutes ago, Plein Air said:

...I think that whoever it was that broadcast this to the world was not justified in doing so. I feel they did something far worse than the innocent error on the part of the teacher, and yes, I realize that I am judging that persons actions...

If this story was not told, then you would have not been able to create this thread about this story you feel should not have been told. 😉

M.

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I know the tradition of Ash Wednesday, but—having grown up outside of Utah, with *plenty* of Catholics—I have never seen a Catholic child attend school with their forehead marked.  

Yes, the teacher should have been more careful to give accommodation—doubly so, if she’s LDS.  But maybe @anatess2 can fill me in on how frequently American Catholic kids (at least, those attending public school) actually do this?  Is this a pretty normal thing, and I just haven’t noticed it?  Or are this kid and his grandma the equivalent of Mormons who claim refined sugar violates the Word of Wisdom?

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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2 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I know the tradition of Ash Wednesday, but—having grown up outside of Utah, with *plenty* of Catholics—I have never seen a Catholic child attend school with their forehead marked.  

Yes, the teacher should have been more careful to give accommodation—doubly so, if she’s LDS.  But maybe @anatess2 can fill me in on how frequently Catholic kids (at least, those attending public school) actually do this?

I grew up Catholic and when I went to public school (From K-6th grade)  virtually no Catholic kid had their forehead marked. Masses were always held after school. 

Edited by MormonGator

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2 hours ago, Plein Air said:

The boy unsuccessfully tried to explain what it was and was forced to wipe it off.

This is the part that makes the difference.  He tried to enlighten the teacher and was apparently ignored.  In 2019 there's -zero- excuse for that.  A teacher who was unaware could very easily have verified his claims by checking online.  That didn't happen.

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3 minutes ago, unixknight said:

This is the part that makes the difference.  He tried to enlighten the teacher and was apparently ignored.  In 2019 there's -zero- excuse for that.  A teacher who was unaware could very easily have verified his claims by checking online.  That didn't happen.

I agree, there is no excuse. But let's keep things in perspective. It's not like she beat the kid or humiliated him in front of his peers. People think that "everyone" knows about Ash Wednesday. "Everyone" does not know, especially in a state where Catholics are a small minority.

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I know the tradition of Ash Wednesday, but—having grown up outside of Utah, with *plenty* of Catholics—I have never seen a Catholic child attend school with their forehead marked.  

Yes, the teacher should have been more careful to give accommodation—doubly so, if she’s LDS.  But maybe @anatess2 can fill me in on how frequently American Catholic kids (at least, those attending public school) actually do this?  Is this a pretty normal thing, and I just haven’t noticed it?  Or are this kid and his grandma the equivalent of Mormons who claim refined sugar violates the Word of Wisdom?

Depends on where you are.  In the Philippines, Ash Wednesday masses start at 4AM.  Most people go to Mass before going to work.  Most kids attend Catholic School also, so the school holds mass before bell.  So not having the mark is the odd thing.  In my corner of Florida, the first mass is at 7AM.  So, not many children can attend the mass and make it to first bell.  So they usually attend the afternoon masses.   But most High Schools in my county start at 8:35AM, so you'll find the occasional mark in the High Schools.  My kids' High School, for instance, usually have a few kids with the mark on Ash Wednesday every year so it's not something weird there.  It's more like, "Oh, is it Ash Wednesday again?".

In any case, High Schools here have more girls wearing make-up from subtle to garish than not wearing make-up.  Having a "no face painting" rule would be met with screaching feminists.  ;)

 

Edited by anatess2

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19 minutes ago, Vort said:

I agree, there is no excuse. But let's keep things in perspective. It's not like she beat the kid or humiliated him in front of his peers. People think that "everyone" knows about Ash Wednesday. "Everyone" does not know, especially in a state where Catholics are a small minority.

True, she didn't beat him but we can't assume he didn't feel humiliated.  Remember, he went to the office crying because he thought he was in trouble.  I used to be Catholic, and yes I've had the ash on my forehead.  To be ordered to wipe it off is to be ordered to put aside one's beliefs.  How would you feel if you were told to go remove your garment over some arbitrary dress code?  (No, I'm not saying they're equivalent.  Just making a point.)  

It bothers me a bit that his explanation of what the ashes were was insufficient.  Saying that it was a religion thing ought to have ended the problem but it didn't.  Did the teacher think he was lying?  

At any rate, in this case the teacher apologized, the kid accepted, and that should have been it.  It's unclear to me why this teacher was placed on administrative leave.   That seems unnecessary and heavy handed to me.

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51 minutes ago, Vort said:

I agree, there is no excuse. But let's keep things in perspective. It's not like she beat the kid or humiliated him in front of his peers. People think that "everyone" knows about Ash Wednesday. "Everyone" does not know, especially in a state where Catholics are a small minority.

Agree. And it's not just Catholics. Many high church protestants celebrate it too. 

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3 hours ago, Plein Air said:

The gist of the story -

<snip for length>

This story is essentially a teacher not knowing a religious tradition and just trying to enforce school rules.  It's sad that she didn't know, and I feel bad for the kid.  This something that everyone involved needs a hug and open heart.  A social media swarm is the opposite of that.  

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53 minutes ago, unixknight said:

At any rate, in this case the teacher apologized, the kid accepted, and that should have been it.  It's unclear to me why this teacher was placed on administrative leave.   That seems unnecessary and heavy handed to me.

Is there detention for teachers?  In any case, this is an egregious error with Constitutional implications.  The kid could have sued the school and easily won.  Administrative leave is appropriate for this situation if the teacher did something contrary to what the School Administration would do.  If the teacher was given explicit instructions by the School Administration to have a zero tolerance policy on face painting to include religious symbols, then somebody in the School Administration gets to take the leave.

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4 hours ago, anatess2 said:

One thing you are missing.  You are saying that many people do not know about Ash Wednesday.  Guess what... the boy making this news just made a WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE know and pay attention about Ash Wednesday.

I am included. This in many ways was a good thing as many like me are now aware of this practice. Plus, the boy said he forgives his teacher. Glad it turned out well. :)

Edited by scottyg

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3 hours ago, Vort said:

People think that "everyone" knows about Ash Wednesday. "Everyone" does not know, especially in a state where Catholics are a small minority.

I'll admit, I thought that at first. Then I remembered that I live in a city that's 30% Catholic. 

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7 hours ago, MormonGator said:

My thoughts completely. 

What do you mean? Are you trying to fool us into thinking that you've had more than one thought this year? Give it up mate, no one will ever believe that!

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7 hours ago, Vort said:

I agree, there is no excuse. But let's keep things in perspective. It's not like she beat the kid or humiliated him in front of his peers. People think that "everyone" knows about Ash Wednesday. "Everyone" does not know, especially in a state where Catholics are a small minority.

In an age of such tremendous polarization, a kid shows up to school with a cross on his forehead. The teacher foolishly says, "Face paint."

Seriously? We're not talking about a construction site--teachers are college-educated.

The kid explains, "It's for Ash Wednesday. I got it at mass." Boom. End of story.

Maybe the teacher was ignorant. Maybe the kid has a history with her. But, this is fodder for internet and conservative media attention. Besides, all that happened was she got some paid leave.

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10 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

...Besides, all that happened was she got some paid leave.

You don't think the teacher learned a valuable lesson?

M.

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33 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

Besides, all that happened was she got some paid leave.

Nothing should have happened to her. Sadly, we live in a very thin skinned culture where all of us-from LDS to atheist love playing the persecuted victim card. When we see a whipping boy or whipping girl-pitchforks come out. We should drop it and move on. 

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6 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

Nothing should have happened to her. Sadly, we live in a very thin skinned culture where all of us-from LDS to atheist love playing the persecuted victim card. When we see a whipping boy or whipping girl-pitchforks come out. We should drop it and move on. 

Disagree.  This is a government employee depriving a kid of his 1st Amendment Constitutional Rights.  The school HAS TO do something or they end up in court.  Had the school not issue consequences, the taxpayers would have ended up paying tons of money after they lose the case spectacularly.  Administrative leave is small potatoes compared to what this COULD have become.

Either you’re a Constitutionalist or you’re not.  There’s no in-between.

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1 hour ago, anatess2 said:

Disagree.  This is a government employee depriving a kid of his 1st Amendment Constitutional Rights.  The school HAS TO do something or they end up in court.  Had the school not issue consequences, the taxpayers would have ended up paying tons of money after they lose the case spectacularly.  Administrative leave is small potatoes compared to what this COULD have become.

Either you’re a Constitutionalist or you’re not.  There’s no in-between.

No, it's possible to be a Constitutionalist who's not so anally puckered that you can't sit down. Had this been something other than the honest mistake it seems clearly to be, I might feel differently. But the teacher made an ignorant mistake, harmless in the long run, no permanent damage done, sincere apology given, lesson learned. MG is right. We should drop it and move on.

Edited by Vort

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I suppose I have to defer to our resident ex-Catholics as to how “harmful” the decision was or wasn’t.  

But in balance, I suspect some snot-nosed grade-schooler saying “it’s my religion—honest!” to excuse all manner of tomfoolery is not an uncommon scenario for a teacher; and a teacher might be easily become jaded.

Edited by Just_A_Guy
Mea culpa!

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10 hours ago, Plein Air said:

 If the school policy did not have wording exempting religious reasons for face painting, then the school policy was wrong, but the teacher was not. School policy should have specifically excluded certain things such as the Ash Wednesday cross from the rules, but as far as I know it did not.

Face painting?????  I went to 12 yrs of Catholic school and was Catholic much of my life, receiving ashes most of that time. It is not face painting. I can't even speak, I am so appalled you would liken getting ashes as part of a religious ritual to face painting.  And any teacher, a college-educated person, who does not know about Ash Wednesday, whether they celebrate it or not, needs to go back to school.

I swear, I need to stop being shocked at what members do in Utah. Y'all some small minded people sometimes.

 

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9 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I know the tradition of Ash Wednesday, but—having grown up outside of Utah, with *plenty* of Catholics—I have never seen a Catholic child attend school with their forehead marked.  

Yes, the teacher should have been more careful to give accommodation—doubly so, if she’s LDS.  But maybe @anatess2 can fill me in on how frequently American Catholic kids (at least, those attending public school) actually do this?  Is this a pretty normal thing, and I just haven’t noticed it?  Or are this kid and his grandma the equivalent of Mormons who claim refined sugar violates the Word of Wisdom?

Strange because as I was growing up, numerous kids would come to school with ash on their foreheads after attending mass.  But it could also be I grew up in a huge population of Filipinos and Mexicans who were mainly Catholic.  :)  

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