Posted by: mollyrossiter | July 16, 2009

Work or religion?

The Oregon Legislature sent a bill to the governor this week that claims to broaden religious freedom in the state but would bar teachers — and only teachers — from wearing religiously mandated attire such as an Islamic head scarf, of hijab.

According to the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, a section of the Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act states:

“No teacher in any public school shall wear any religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher. A school district, education service district or public charter school does not commit an unlawful employment practice under ORS chapter 659A by reason of prohibiting a teacher from wearing religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher.”

CAIR leaders are angered by the proposed legislation.

“This legislation forces Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and others to choose between their faith and entering the teaching profession,” said CAIR’s national communications director, Ibrahim Hooper. “Those who wear religiously mandated attire are not proselytizing; they are practicing their faith, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Concerns about religious neutrality in schools can be adequately addressed through professional codes of conduct.”

Hooper questions whether a Christian teacher wearing a cross or a Jewish teacher wearing a prominent Star of David would face being fired from their teaching position, as well.

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