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    Speak Up! - View Question #472

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    Question: What if a student carries a knife as a religious symbol to school? Wouldn't taking it away be an infringement on our 1st Amendment freedom of religion?

    Answer: There's no clear-cut answer to this question. Rather, the answer depends on several things.

    First off, the First Amendment ot the U.S. Constitution prohibits public schools from enforcing rules that impose a substantial burden on a student's exercise of his or her religion, unless the school can show a very good reason. So, for example, a school must allow a student to make up a test that she missed because of her absence during a religious holiday. The school's interest in having a student take a test on a particular day is not important enough to ignore the student's interest in observing her religion. A student, however, must show that following the rule would cause her to violate her religious beliefs. In other words, a religious belief cannot be used just as an excuse for avoiding a rule that the student simply dislikes.

    In light of the concerns about school safety, a court probably would look very skeptically upon a student's claim that the First Amendment gives him the right to wear a knife as a religious symbol. But it is still possible that a court would agree with the student if certain conditions were met.

    First, the student would be required to prove that he sincerely practices a religion that requires its believers to carry a knife. Second, the court would balance the student's interest in practicing his religion against the school's interest in safety. In balancing the interests of student and school, the court should consider whether the school could accommodate the student and avoid serious safety risks.

    1 thru 5 of 15 comments    [ 1 ]  2   3    
    On 01/31/08
    Jacob from AZ said:
    It is also a law that students can not bring any type of WEAPON into school, these include guns - knifes - brass knuckles - tear gas - etc. Federal Law prohibits this, and is a minimum suspension of 7 to 10 days out of school. Possible community service for Highschoolers.
    On 11/29/07
    from KY said:

    i don't want to sound ignorant or anything, but will someone please explain what kind of religion involves carrying a knife around with you everywhere you go? that sounds really made-up to me. that's just some kid trying to start something at school.

    On 09/02/07
    Ashlyn from AZ said:
    In my opinion, school is not a place for a knife or any other item that may turn or become a weapon, religious or not.
    On 09/02/07
    Ashlyn from AZ said:
    Let’s take a look at some of the important words in this sentence. Student, Knife & School are not meant to be in the same sentence or area! Even if it is a religious reason, a knife is still a knife, and a knife is considered a weapon. It may infringe the rights of the student’s 1st amendment rights, but it is also a safety procedure, and now-a-days you can’t take any thing lightly. I understand that this student might feel that this is they’re freedom of religion being infringed but you never know if a problem was to arise and that religious object suddenly became a weapon.
    On 04/09/06
    Jamale from MI said:
    Ok religion or no religion there has to be a line drawn somewhere with weapons i know we have to respect someones else religion but a knife,dagger,sword or what ever you want to call them. male students should not be allowed to carry them. worst case scenario the "religist guy" gets into a fight and pulls his weapon on the other student the other student is frighten for his life and goes home and tells his parents who then sues the school for allowing a student with a weapon on school property. or other students may claim this religion for the same reason
    1 thru 5 of 15 comments    [ 1 ]  2   3    

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