Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Editorial Comments on Symbolism

Two personal opinion articles that I came across addressing the same symbolism often attributed to those who cover. I've underlined the emphasis that I make in this respect. Please read and determine for yourself.

Re: "A contradiction?" (Letters, May 29).

First, on the basis of absolutely nothing, Ken Shore equates modesty with a desire to be unattractive. It's an untenable link. Just as it's possible to be both modest and attractive (e.g. my wife in a business suit), it's equally possible to be both immodest and unattractive (e.g. me in a Speedo). [emphsis mine, LisaM]

But then from this flimsy perch, Shore leaps to the absurd conclusion that a woman he saw wearing both lipstick and a hijab was forced to wear the latter (but not the former). Surely it's equally possible she was just trying to be like my wife: modest and attractive. Or is Shore suggesting that a woman must be immodest to be attractive?

It's possible Shore possesses an impeccably logical mind, but in this case,it appears to have been impeded by his clear antipathy toward those who don't share his secular principles.

Aidan Murphy


I appreciate these thoughts so much, since very often head covering is equated with plain dressing, so as not to attract attention. I personally feel that there is a broad path painted between the two extremes of very plain and showy so as to attract attention. A head covering, no matter what color, attracts attention in a society where they are little worn. But I have heard the comments, and even entertained thoughts myself, concerning the women who cover with a pretty scarf: as if its prettiness actually contrasts with her desire to be modest. It doesn't, and I think that is what this author addresses pretty well here. - LisaM


Prayer group's acts were protected expression, not religious establishment

in the Tennessean.com, By WILLIAM HINES • June 3, 2008

I wish to express my concerns relative to the events described in Friday's front-page Tennessean article, "Prayer group can't get special access."

Having just perused the Constitution and relevant Supreme Court cases, I disagree with the court ruling. It seems that the crux of such cases as this is in determining the difference in establishment and expression. [emphasis mine, LisaM] According to the First Amendment, individuals are guaranteed the freedom of expression. This seems to include religious expression. To allow groups to pray during the school day does not promote a particular religion, as long as such access is not denied to other religious groups.

Furthermore, I would like for someone to explain to me how the wearing of "I prayed" buttons establishes a religion. It is, to be sure, an expression of a religious belief/practice, but is no more an establishment of a religion than for an Islamic woman to wear her traditional head covering during her everyday activities.

The statements of the Constitution relative to the separation of church and state are specific, and refer to the establishment of a religion. I would concede that they might even cover an overt endorsement of a certain religion or sect. However, simply expressing one's belief by wearing an "I prayed" button is no different from a yarmulke or other traditional religious garb (expression) being worn by a student, faculty member or administrator.

There's more, but I appreciate this writer's pointing out the difference and often the problem for so many is between the EXPRESSION of faith and the ESTABLISHMENT of faith. No matter what head covering, jewelry, or t-shirt is worn as it expresses someone's faith - or personally reminds them of their faith and devotion - they are not attempting to pressure anyone else into doing the same. Before I covered, I wondered if women who did cover wore theirs with a predominant thought that I was wrong and needed correction. I know now that these thoughts are usually far from the head coverer's mind. The plain devotion to faith, obedience, and humbleness of heart in the face of the secular, materially minded society in which we live is generally enough to be on one's mind. Though I'm sure that many of us would like to see a more faithful, obedient and humble society (as I am always somehow comforted and encouraged a bit myself when I see or read from another lady who covers her head). - LisaM
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