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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.

    11 thru 15 of 15 comments     1   2  [ 3 ]   
    On 05/05/03
    Cassie from HI said:
    What does drugs have to do with carrying a knife to school for religious reasons. I have never in my 18 years heard of a religion where you have to carry a knife to school. And if that is the fact then I am sure there are certain schools for that religion and if there is whoever has to carry a knife go to that school cause I know that I wouldn't want anyone carrying a knife to school religion or not. And I have a right to feel protected.
    On 01/16/03
    Kacy from MA said:
    Most schools consider knives to be a weapon , and a school is not the place for, them. Any religion that states a person is reqiured to carry a knife is not a religion but a cult. Just because someone has a right to do something thought about doing it should be first priority. He could have the knife taken from him, and used on him. Would someone cross the street being his right when a speeding car is comming down the road. Not likley. So, regardless of a right, its not always smart to choose them over one's saftey and the saftey of others.
    On 01/15/03
    michelle from CA said:
    I think shouldn't be aloud to do drugs even outside of schoo. If they were to take an overdose of anything, they could badly hurt and/or kill themselves. if they hurt themselves I bet you would feel bad, wouldn't you?
    On 08/27/02
    bob from AZ said:
    I don't think the drugs are helping Pernell's spelling.
    On 04/11/02
    pernell from PA said:
    i think if kids in schools today want to experiment with druds they should be allowed to. who cares what they are doing outside of school. if they come into school entoxicated then i deeply feel they should be severly punished for their actions. but if they aren't coming to school entoxicated they should really be checked for drugs. therefore it is against the first amendment to enforce rules that will enforce a substancle burden. and it is also against the 15th amendment. without the consent of the student, a parent, or if there is reason to believe that particaluar student is taking drugs yo
    11 thru 15 of 15 comments     1   2  [ 3 ]   

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