State and Religion: Religious symbols while in government-uniform?

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This has been bothering me for awhile.
I feel the state should be neutral, represent any and all of the populace. So all government officials (police, customs, secret service, whatever) should portray this neutrality. They should have official uniforms that show that they represent the law and the state, and everyone is equal under law.

..Yet apparently, we are cutting slack for a minority-group, simply because they are a minority.
In Sweden, female customs-officers are allowed to wear a hijab as part of their uniform. Doesn't sound like a big deal, does it? Well, it isn't. Except why should we allow the exception of a dress-code in an official government position just for these people? Why should we allow a religious dress-code and/or marks of faith for ANY religion in a government uniform?

I don't care what people do in their spare time. Really. I don't care what religion they follow. But I feel state and religion should be separated (and it is, by law). And I feel no government official should represent their OWN political of religious views while at work. You work for a private company? Sure, go for it. But this is the state. You don't represent a company, you represent us. All of us.

I understand the reason for this. It's positive discrimination (which I am in general for when it comes to genders in the open market), they are trying to allow women of middle-eastern descent an easier time getting into the job-market. And I can support that. But I am unsure if we should give them this kind of special treatment, which doesn't revolve around them per se, but giving leeway for their religion.

Am I overreacting here?

Because the hijab is something they consider mandatory for their religious beliefs and ultimately isn't that big a deal. If you said "no you can't wear that" then they won't work for the government. Ditto for Sikhi who wear Turban's for religious reasons, etc. etc. etc. Hell my public sector job states that employees can't have facial tattoos unless they are for religious reasons, that doesn't mean we're endorsing that one religion.

You don't seem to grasp what neutrality actually means here. Letting these people following their belief systems isn't imposing that belief on the entire government. Hell you could easily arguing that preventing people from following their religious beliefs in the public service is imposing Athiesm on them.

Well...on the one hand, in uniform, people shouldn't represent anything but the uniform. Don't say anything about anything.

OTOH, I don't see any reason not to make uniform rules flexible enough to let people's religious headwear fit in. I don't really see them as representing their religion.

I think we ought to allow them to wear a hijab, but then I'm not really all that in favor of uniforms or uniformity. I think that the hijab issue demonstrates the lack of importance of having uniformly uniform uniforms. It's obvious to me that it is more important that a woman be allowed to wear a certain garment that she gives significance. I think this reasoning ought to extend wider than just the hijab (or religious garments in general), but the hijab is a good example.

Also, I'm reminded of the "pieces of flair" from Office Space for some reason. Hijab seems like a piece of flair to me, and I think pieces of flair, while they shouldn't be mandatory, ought to be allowed in official dress.

Shaoken:

You don't seem to grasp what neutrality actually means here. Letting these people following their belief systems isn't imposing that belief on the entire government. Hell you could easily arguing that preventing people from following their religious beliefs in the public service is imposing Athiesm on them.

So can I wear a political symbol on my uniform-sleeve because I feel it's mandatory for my belief-system?
Because yeah, I feel that state-jobs come with a mandatatory neutrality representation of total neutrality.

Realitycrash:
This has been bothering me for awhile.
I feel the state should be neutral, represent any and all of the populace. So all government officials (police, customs, secret service, whatever) should portray this neutrality. They should have official uniforms that show that they represent the law and the state, and everyone is equal under law.

..Yet apparently, we are cutting slack for a minority-group, simply because they are a minority.
In Sweden, female customs-officers are allowed to wear a hijab as part of their uniform. Doesn't sound like a big deal, does it? Well, it isn't. Except why should we allow the exception of a dress-code in an official government position just for these people? Why should we allow a religious dress-code and/or marks of faith for ANY religion in a government uniform?

The question you possibly want to ask is whether service to the state requires the individual to entirely subsume their individuality. I would hope the answer to this would be no. Should we also ban state workers from wearing branded clothing, spectacles or jewellery on the grounds it might be interpreted as the state showing a lack of neutrality towards private enterprises? It seems to me there is no reason to single out and stop at religion - the state should eliminate all forms of personal expression in uniform.

If the government bans all visible reference to religion in its uniform - and particularly only religion - might this even suggest to people the government opposes religion, rather than is neutral to it? Other things to consider is that the machinery of state perhaps could be betteras an inclusive body reflective in some way of its population, rather than impersonalised and aloof. For the state to alienate those who have certain religious/cultural dress standards will reduces the available talent pool for the state to hire, and increases their hostility towards the state.

Just a side question here, but what would happen if you showed up at work wearing a whole bunch of different religious symbols? I know it's stupid, but that's what I'm thinking about in these situations.

ShipofFools:
Just a side question here, but what would happen if you showed up at work wearing a whole bunch of different religious symbols? I know it's stupid, but that's what I'm thinking about in these situations.

That makes you a Pascalitarian Universalist.

Excuse me while I invent a religion that allows me to wear a pope's hat while in uniform.

(In case you didn't get it, I think allowing them to wear the hijab is wrong.)

Seanchaidh:

ShipofFools:
Just a side question here, but what would happen if you showed up at work wearing a whole bunch of different religious symbols? I know it's stupid, but that's what I'm thinking about in these situations.

That makes you a Pascalitarian Universalist.

At least I don't treat drones as normal people. (Your avatar :P)

But holy crap, there's a name for that stupid thing I just made up?
Sometimes, this planet is really, really funny.

Agema:

Realitycrash:
This has been bothering me for awhile.
I feel the state should be neutral, represent any and all of the populace. So all government officials (police, customs, secret service, whatever) should portray this neutrality. They should have official uniforms that show that they represent the law and the state, and everyone is equal under law.

..Yet apparently, we are cutting slack for a minority-group, simply because they are a minority.
In Sweden, female customs-officers are allowed to wear a hijab as part of their uniform. Doesn't sound like a big deal, does it? Well, it isn't. Except why should we allow the exception of a dress-code in an official government position just for these people? Why should we allow a religious dress-code and/or marks of faith for ANY religion in a government uniform?

The question you possibly want to ask is whether service to the state requires the individual to entirely subsume their individuality. I would hope the answer to this would be no. Should we also ban state workers from wearing branded clothing, spectacles or jewellery on the grounds it might be interpreted as the state showing a lack of neutrality towards private enterprises? It seems to me there is no reason to single out and stop at religion - the state should eliminate all forms of personal expression in uniform.

If the government bans all visible reference to religion in its uniform - and particularly only religion - might this even suggest to people the government opposes religion, rather than is neutral to it? Other things to consider is that the machinery of state perhaps could be betteras an inclusive body reflective in some way of its population, rather than impersonalised and aloof. For the state to alienate those who have certain religious/cultural dress standards will reduces the available talent pool for the state to hire, and increases their hostility towards the state.

State-workers shouldn't be wearing branded clothing or jewelery if their occupation includes an uniform, no. If their occupation does not (say, patent office) I have no problem with it. Branded spectacles? Personally, I'd prefer if the state provided reasonable priced spectacles to wear while at duty (since they might get damaged, etc). I see no reason why a man or woman could not chose which of these spectacles they wish to wear (say they have a choice out of five different) based upon which aesthetics they prefer.
See, this is a problem too. I sincerely doubt a large cross (or a Buddhist wheel) would be allowed to be patched into a uniform. But a Hijab is.
Perhaps uniforms would do better if they were more personalized, and reflect the populace somehow, but then I'd rather see uniforms based upon say district or province (they could even have a public competition for designing them, as long as they remained practical and easily recognizable), but politics and religion? No.

ShipofFools:

Seanchaidh:

ShipofFools:
Just a side question here, but what would happen if you showed up at work wearing a whole bunch of different religious symbols? I know it's stupid, but that's what I'm thinking about in these situations.

That makes you a Pascalitarian Universalist.

At least I don't treat drones as normal people. (Your avatar :P)

But holy crap, there's a name for that stupid thing I just made up?
Sometimes, this planet is really, really funny.

Not really, no. :)

Just combining Pascal's Wager logic with Unitarian Universalism. :P

Shaoken:
Because the hijab is something they consider mandatory for their religious beliefs and ultimately isn't that big a deal. If you said "no you can't wear that" then they won't work for the government. Ditto for Sikhi who wear Turban's for religious reasons, etc. etc. etc. Hell my public sector job states that employees can't have facial tattoos unless they are for religious reasons, that doesn't mean we're endorsing that one religion.

You don't seem to grasp what neutrality actually means here. Letting these people following their belief systems isn't imposing that belief on the entire government. Hell you could easily arguing that preventing people from following their religious beliefs in the public service is imposing Athiesm on them.

Since you mentioned Sikhi, it's worth noting they've had to repeatedly modify one of their religious symbols that their faith requires them to carry in various countries in order to fit within local norms (specifically the sword, which depending on which country has been reduced to a dagger or in some places a pendant in the shape of a sword as a reaction to local laws).

Arakasi:
Excuse me while I invent a religion that allows me to wear a pope's hat while in uniform.

(In case you didn't get it, I think allowing them to wear the hijab is wrong.)

Contrary to what you might think, it's entirely possible to differentiate between a sincerely-held religious belief and something a guy made up to get around the dress code. I think wearing a hijab, or any sort of religious wear (so long as it is not disruptive to the person's job) is entirely acceptable. By saying it shouldn't be allowed, you're implying that the government uniform is more sacred to you than the hijab is to them. Personally I just don't think it matters anywhere near that much. A government official wearing a hijab no more implies government endorsement of religion than an atheist wearing a Portal t-shirt implies that all atheists enjoy video games.

Realitycrash:
See, this is a problem too. I sincerely doubt a large cross (or a Buddhist wheel) would be allowed to be patched into a uniform. But a Hijab is.

I'm not getting what you mean by "patched into." You mean like a patch sewn onto the uniform? The obvious problem there is that it's altering the uniform itself, which in most cases belongs to the state and not the worker. So no, that wouldn't be allowed for anybody to do simply because you're altering state property.

But as long as there isn't a safety hazard, I don't see why wearing a cross around one's neck would be a problem (and I really don't know if Buddhists actually wear the dharmachakra wheel, I've only ever seen it in art and architecture). And the same goes with the hijab. Female Muslims wouldn't be allowed to wear a hijab if they wanted to be a firefighter or a soldier or something, simply because it would pose a risk and cause distraction that can't be afforded in dangerous situations.

I'm pretty much with Agema on this. People are allowed to wear wedding rings, which show that they believe in marriage and showing that off to others. People are allowed to wear whatever glasses they choose, women can choose whether or not they wear makeup, jewelry is usually freely permitted within reason. The most basic and practical use for a uniform is to make it known to non-workers that the person standing before them is a worker. It isn't to make everybody the "same," otherwise as Agema stated they shouldn't be stopping at getting rid of hijabs. Plus, it adds a certain element of professionalism to the organization. I've heard many arguments against women being allowed to wear hijabs, but "a lack of professionalism" has never been one of them.

When it's a health risk or massively gets in the way (like wearing a hijab near heavy machinery) it should be banned. The same thing goes for hospitals & anywhere else where a religious symbol could be unhygenic.

Mostly, society should try and accommodate the beliefs of others though. I wouldn't personally ever wear a religious symbol but respect the right of others to do so.

Shaoken:
You don't seem to grasp what neutrality actually means here. Letting these people following their belief systems isn't imposing that belief on the entire government. Hell you could easily arguing that preventing people from following their religious beliefs in the public service is imposing Athiesm on them.

You're exactly right. It is also why the ACLU is a piece of crap (they sue people over this kind of malarkey, but usually only in the course of Christian stuff.)

Rules are rules, they shouldn't have exceptions. If they want to wear it they can wear it when they're off the clock but while they're on the job they need to obey the rules or be fired.

I remember seeing someone with a camouflage turban for an armed forces. I am completely cool with that as it strikes the equal balance between both respecting religious beliefs and enforcing the role the uniform represents.

If a woman wears a hijab then it had best be the same colour as the rest of the uniform.

Religious SYMBOLS though such as crosses, crescents, prayer beads or whatever that are entirely optional should not be displayed on any government uniform.

Abomination:
I remember seeing someone with a camouflage turban for an armed forces. I am completely cool with that as it strikes the equal balance between both respecting religious beliefs and enforcing the role the uniform represents.

If a woman wears a hijab then it had best be the same colour as the rest of the uniform.

Religious SYMBOLS though such as crosses, crescents, prayer beads or whatever that are entirely optional should not be displayed on any government uniform.

But with a uniform isn't everyone supposed to look the same? Letting someone wear something nobody else wears means they're not wearing the proper uniform.

Big_Willie_Styles:

Shaoken:
You don't seem to grasp what neutrality actually means here. Letting these people following their belief systems isn't imposing that belief on the entire government. Hell you could easily arguing that preventing people from following their religious beliefs in the public service is imposing Athiesm on them.

You're exactly right. It is also why the ACLU is a piece of crap (they sue people over this kind of malarkey, but usually only in the course of Christian stuff.)

There's a difference between official displays and individual uniforms. Bad comparison.

I don't really care about the hijab, as many in the religion view it as necessary to wear. To deny them the ability to wear it while they are working seems more like an act of discrimination against their religion than a support for it if they allow the women to wear it. It's hardly like wearing a highly noticeable cross necklace, which is hardly mandatory within the Christian faith. In the cross case, they are doing it specifically because they are trying to identify with a religion and support that religion any way they can. In the hijab case, they are doing it because they believe it is the best way to observe Muslim laws of modesty. (I'm speaking in a general sense here)

Then again, I don't see how religious symbols like the hijab or the cross necklace really support a religion. If I walk around with a shirt that says "Jesus", I may get a few comments from Christians, but no one else would take notice. I myself have never asked a woman about her religious beliefs because she is wearing a hijab, and I don't know of anyone who has. So long as they don't try to preach that religion while they are on the clock, then I don't see a problem. In the very odd chance that someone does ask as a result of the religious wear, then it should be the duty of the government official to tell them that they can't talk about that. Now if someone goes so far as to stamp a giant cross on their uniform and ask everyone they come into contact with "You like my cross?", then I can see a problem.

Xan Krieger:

Abomination:
I remember seeing someone with a camouflage turban for an armed forces. I am completely cool with that as it strikes the equal balance between both respecting religious beliefs and enforcing the role the uniform represents.

If a woman wears a hijab then it had best be the same colour as the rest of the uniform.

Religious SYMBOLS though such as crosses, crescents, prayer beads or whatever that are entirely optional should not be displayed on any government uniform.

But with a uniform isn't everyone supposed to look the same? Letting someone wear something nobody else wears means they're not wearing the proper uniform.

I guess everyone better be content with wearing the exact same size and gender neutral uniform as well then.

The point of a uniform isn't to make everyone look exactly the same but make them be identifiable as belonging to a particular faction or occupation. If the only thing different between two people is one is wearing a hijab and the other person isn't and you can't work out that they are most probably part of the same company the problem is with you and not with the hijab.

This is the flipside of the gay marriage debate to me - a woman wearing a hijab as part of her uniform affects you very (to the point of insignificance) little but affects her very much. If she can still easily be identified as a member of the organization she represents or as filling a particular profession I see no reason to prevent them from being incorporated into the uniform. Just make them match the same colour scheme, I think it looks quite neat and is a great image for the company.

Abomination:

Xan Krieger:

Abomination:
I remember seeing someone with a camouflage turban for an armed forces. I am completely cool with that as it strikes the equal balance between both respecting religious beliefs and enforcing the role the uniform represents.

If a woman wears a hijab then it had best be the same colour as the rest of the uniform.

Religious SYMBOLS though such as crosses, crescents, prayer beads or whatever that are entirely optional should not be displayed on any government uniform.

But with a uniform isn't everyone supposed to look the same? Letting someone wear something nobody else wears means they're not wearing the proper uniform.

I guess everyone better be content with wearing the exact same size and gender neutral uniform as well then.

The point of a uniform isn't to make everyone look exactly the same but make them be identifiable as belonging to a particular faction or occupation. If the only thing different between two people is one is wearing a hijab and the other person isn't and you can't work out that they are most probably part of the same company the problem is with you and not with the hijab.

This is the flipside of the gay marriage debate to me - a woman wearing a hijab as part of her uniform affects you very (to the point of insignificance) little but affects her very much. If she can still easily be identified as a member of the organization she represents or as filling a particular profession I see no reason to prevent them from being incorporated into the uniform. Just make them match the same colour scheme, I think it looks quite neat and is a great image for the company.

Why make exceptions for some and not others? By picking who gets to have a modified uniform and who doesn't isn't fair to those who don't make the cut. If you're gonna let one group of people wear something for their religion then you should let everyone.

So long as it does not interfere with their job or is disruptive, it should be alright.

I mean nuns are allowed to wear their outfit when they work, and I doubt anyone would have the balls to challenge them on it.

While I agree with the sentiment of Government being neutral in matters of Religion, it is quite silly to try and enforce this to anyone who wears a government uniform. In Western societies we tend to try and tolerate people's religions, even if they're different from our own, this extends to the government. If a government employee feels the need to wear something for religious reasons that does not effect their performance there is little reason to bar them from it as long as it isn't ridiculous. A Hijab, cross necklace or a turban do not do anything to imply the government specifically supports these religions, and it allows those who wear it to express their faith. If we try and enforce such a rule it can easily be interpreted as fighting religion, not being neutral. Yes, an employee is in a way a government representative, but they are also an individual with their own beliefs, and this(within reason) should be respected.

To put it in practical terms, a modest cross necklace(one that is simple and small), or a turban or hijab that matches a uniforms color scheme is an appropriate level of accommodation to be allowed in uniform. The individual is still identifiable and the garment being worn is not interfering with their job. However, a large cross, or a burqa is absolutely unnecessary and and may interfere with duty.

Xan Krieger:
Why make exceptions for some and not others? By picking who gets to have a modified uniform and who doesn't isn't fair to those who don't make the cut. If you're gonna let one group of people wear something for their religion then you should let everyone.

Because when your religion DEMANDS you wear something then to deny them the ability to do so will also deny them the ability to maintain their religion while working in that particular job.

It is equality because nobody else is being denied the right to wear religiously compulsory clothing. If your religion requires you to wear some kind of face paint and you wear said face paint all the time then it too would be allowed - they would probably request that the paint be at least in company colours.

If you don't follow a religion that demands you wear a particular type of dress then it isn't unfair that someone else is allowed to wear a headscarf and you are not. They are allowed to wear it as part of their uniform because they are not allowed to remove it. You are not allowed to wear it as part of the uniform because you are allowed to not wear it.

You have a choice to remain employed without breaching your religious dress code, they will not have that choice if they can not wear their religious dress that slightly conflicts with the uniform.

Theoretically, a person should be allowed to wear and display any kind of non-intrusive ornament they have that displays what their religious affiliation is without it impeding or biasing them in their job and the public would understand that it is a personal endorsement of that religion, not one endorsed by the government as a whole.

Theoretically. Humans are emotional and stupid, though, so we have to work with what we've got. In this case, as long as it doesn't interfere with the job I couldn't give two shits.

Realitycrash:

Shaoken:

You don't seem to grasp what neutrality actually means here. Letting these people following their belief systems isn't imposing that belief on the entire government. Hell you could easily arguing that preventing people from following their religious beliefs in the public service is imposing Athiesm on them.

So can I wear a political symbol on my uniform-sleeve because I feel it's mandatory for my belief-system?
Because yeah, I feel that state-jobs come with a mandatatory neutrality representation of total neutrality.

Is there such a religion that requires the endorsement of a political party?

There is no such thing as "total" neutrality. Because as I said, what you're doing is essentially forcing absolute athiesm on the public service, and nobody is going to look at someone with a headscarf and say "Oh my god the government is supporting Islam above all other religions!!!"

Workforces want diversity, and this isn't a big deal. It's on par with complaining that workplaces offering vegitarian courses breaks neutrality rules, or making exceptions for those with handicaps is ruining neutrality.

Realitycrash:
Snip

In short, telling them they can't wear something like that is exactly the religious non-neutrality you're complaining about. It's part of their religion, so if they can't wear it then they can't have a job in the State. That ammounts to religious discrimination, which seems to be exactly your issue.

I don't know... It's a thin line, for one I don't want the law to actively enter and change religion, but I certainly don't want any religion to go in and change law. Inbetween the two I would have to go with "Justice is Blind" and say that there should be no exceptions, if the public-sector requires a uniform you wear that uniform.

If their religion prevents them from bearing said Uniform.. Well, I find it of equal value to say, Nudists. Nudists are descriminated against because they cannot be naked anywhere else than their homes or certain area's. Yet being naked would not bring physical harm to those around them, so how come Nudists aren't allowed to follow their ways in public? Is this not discrimination?

I don't want Religion to get priority over anything else, It's not special. And does not deserve special treatment. If you wish to allow all religions, then you change the law to reflect that.

Instead of saying 'No Headwear' with exception of Religious Headwear you say 'Headwear allowed' anything else is discrimination.
Instead of saying "No Jewelry" with exception of religious symbol you say "Jewelry allowed" anything else is discrimination.

Equality through Justice.
Justice through Equality.

Something like that.

Apollo45:

Realitycrash:
Snip

In short, telling them they can't wear something like that is exactly the religious non-neutrality you're complaining about. It's part of their religion, so if they can't wear it then they can't have a job in the State. That ammounts to religious discrimination, which seems to be exactly your issue.

My issues is that they involve their personal beliefs in an office that shouldn't represent them. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Communists, Anarchists (though I doubt few would work for the state), Left, Right, Vegetarian, Meat-eater, I don't care. Please keep your personal beliefs to yourself while representing a neutral state. Why should we give special treatment to these people? If they value their religion more than respecting state office, so be it. There are other jobs. Why should we make exceptions?

Shaoken:

[quote="Realitycrash" post="528.408609.17074111"][quote="Shaoken" post="528.408609.17074060"]
Snip

I'd like to force absolute political, spiritual and religious neutrality when representing the state, yeah. I don't want them wearing anything that says 'go atheism!' either (whatever that might be. Sure there are some jewelry out there).

Abomination:

Xan Krieger:
Why make exceptions for some and not others? By picking who gets to have a modified uniform and who doesn't isn't fair to those who don't make the cut. If you're gonna let one group of people wear something for their religion then you should let everyone.

Because when your religion DEMANDS you wear something then to deny them the ability to do so will also deny them the ability to maintain their religion while working in that particular job..

I'm sorry but; Though luck? State and religion have separated. It's an uniform, representing a neutral state, and it has been modified specifically for some people with personal religious belief. If they value their religious belief more than the neutrality of the state, then they can't work for the state.

Realitycrash:

Abomination:

Xan Krieger:
Why make exceptions for some and not others? By picking who gets to have a modified uniform and who doesn't isn't fair to those who don't make the cut. If you're gonna let one group of people wear something for their religion then you should let everyone.

Because when your religion DEMANDS you wear something then to deny them the ability to do so will also deny them the ability to maintain their religion while working in that particular job..

I'm sorry but; Though luck? State and religion have separated. It's an uniform, representing a neutral state, and it has been modified specifically for some people with personal religious belief. If they value their religious belief more than the neutrality of the state, then they can't work for the state.

So, you do realize that the 'seperation of church and state' is meant to prevent a state religion from being founded right, it's not supposed to be about preventing anyone who works for the government from having religion.

'Displaying a religious symbol' doesn't suddenly make a person more religious then when they aren't displaying it. Displaying it or not they are still going to play favorites if thats what your worried about. All the display does is sort of show who they are going to favor more openly, IF they favor people.

'neutrality' is an illusion. There is no such thing. If someone is a christian and is going to favor a christian, stopping them from wearing a cross is going to do nothing to make them 'more neutral'.

Bentusi16:

Realitycrash:

Abomination:
Because when your religion DEMANDS you wear something then to deny them the ability to do so will also deny them the ability to maintain their religion while working in that particular job..

I'm sorry but; Though luck? State and religion have separated. It's an uniform, representing a neutral state, and it has been modified specifically for some people with personal religious belief. If they value their religious belief more than the neutrality of the state, then they can't work for the state.

So, you do realize that the 'seperation of church and state' is meant to prevent a state religion from being founded right, it's not supposed to be about preventing anyone who works for the government from having religion.

'Displaying a religious symbol' doesn't suddenly make a person more religious then when they aren't displaying it. Displaying it or not they are still going to play favorites if thats what your worried about. All the display does is sort of show who they are going to favor more openly, IF they favor people.

'neutrality' is an illusion. There is no such thing. If someone is a christian and is going to favor a christian, stopping them from wearing a cross is going to do nothing to make them 'more neutral'.

It isn't about religion per se, it's about having your personal beliefs displayed on what should be a neutral uniform. I'd be just as much against political patches on the uniform or anything that signals a personal opinion.

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