Religion & Beliefs

Beltane Hijinks

Because I know how you all love Wicca, I want to point you to this story, which I found via The Revealer: "For the second day in a row, a Hanover Central High School freshman came to school with pagan … Read More

By / May 8, 2007

Because I know how you all love Wicca, I want to point you to this story, which I found via The Revealer:

"For the second day in a row, a Hanover Central High School freshman came to school with pagan symbols sketched on her face and was sent home by school officials. Hanover Superintendent Michael Livovich said the symbols on the girl's face are disruptive to the educational process, and she will be sent home each day if she refuses to wash them off … Holeman's father, Andy Pecenka, said he and his wife, Sharene, will talk to a lawyer regarding their daughter's rights. He said she has been a practicing pagan for three or four years and being sent home compromises her religious freedoms."

Interesting, right?

But here's what gets me about the story…

It isn't about religion, is it?  It's about disruption.  It's about whether or not a student has a right to be a freakshow and distract her fellow classmates.  Because it doesn't seem that anyone at the school is complaining about the religion of the student.  She isn't seeking converts to Wicca, or in any way representing the school.  If she were painting stars of david on her face, it would be pretty much the same.  She's just being a self-involved, performative, silly high school student.

Which was, last I checked, pretty much par for the course.

This isn't really about church and state.  Or freedom of religion.  It's about how far we let kids go to "express themselves". 

When I was in high school, I got sent home for wearing see-through hippie dresses (and very little else).  Which was okay, since I'll admit now that was pretty skanky. 

But  I see this as the same kind of issue. So what I want to know is whether schools still do that?  Can you get sent home for a mohawk these days?  Visible curse-word tattoos?  I hope so.  Because now that I'm old and lame I can see how both self-expression, and also the ramifications of such self-expression, are important parts of growing up.

If Wicca required such activity as a meaningful part of religious observance, I'd see this differently… but that's not the case. This isn't a kippah or a hijab.  It's a decoration.  You don't get a pass to break the rules simply by incorporating religion into your rule-breaking.   Grafitti  is illegal, even when it's got a cross in it.

Really, this comes down to how far down the slippery slope the schools have let things go.  Would they be bothered by non-Wicca-inspired face painting?  If so, I don't see how this is a religious issue. 

Still, it's funny. And a nice reminder that some things never change.