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Secular and Religious Head Scarves and Coverings Issues
Susan Helene Kramer
The issue in schools and societies over banning certain types of head coverings,
veils and scarves has actually been going on at least 40 years. Let me recount
my own experiences in school in the early 1960s.
In high school I was walking down the hall between classes, when a
school staff member came up behind me and plucked the embroidered bow off the
top of the braids wrapped across my head. (The irony was, this person was also
wearing a bow as in bowtie.)
Imagine my horror to have this happen, as I
can assure you, even in my teens I was considered a "goody-goody." The senior
yearbook quote to describe me was 'friend to all'. Explaining that wearing bows
in my hair was a lifelong adornment, and that I had in fact been wearing bows in
my hair for all my 16 years was to no avail.
I was very sad and
humiliated by the event. Though a 3rd generation American, part of my roots were
Czech and from early on my mother braided my hair and tied embroidered ribbons
over the bands of the braids for school each day.
So, I have first
hand experience knowing what it feels like to have another try to control what
adorns my head.
In contrast, I was raised in the Catholic Church and
as a child and young adult in America the rule was for females to wear a head
covering in church. As a child I wore a scarf every time I walked into church. I
remember a particular Donald Duck cotton scarf that I loved to wear in church.
And, did anyone rip that scarf off my head? No. Wearing a headscarf was totally
accepted in my community.
Head coverings today
forward to the present day, I've noticed that the issue of head coverings is
more in the news with instant media attention.
In my opinion, the
reasons given for separating religion and state as far as bodily coverings are
concerned come out of fear that wearing head coverings and veils is more than
signs of religious respect, that it might have some influence in secular life;
school, work, society.
To people in power through appointment or
election in the secular world, consider giving those you serve the respect they
deserve for dressing modestly and in line with their religious beliefs or ethnic
traditions, even if they differ from yours, even if you can't see their eyes.
For in the broadest way, people are identifiable by body shape,
height, postures and movement, just as we recognize one approaching us from
afar, or even just seeing their back.
Consider that the people on our
planet may dress and adorn themselves differently coming from diverse ethnic
roots and religions. And, practice meditation and prayer by sitting, kneeling or
dancing. But, looking from above, we are all living in a wonderfully diverse
world family, with individual skills and talents, to contribute to the entire
functioning family and society of humanity.
Now, wouldn't each country's
people as a whole look boring if everyone dressed in a similarly uniform way?
Come to think of it, complaints about women's head coverings are coming from
many adhering to the tradition of shirts and ties, de
Article by Susan Helene Kramer; photos from the collection of Susan Helene Kramer
Secular and Religious Head Scarves and Coverings Issues Copyright 2011 Susan Helene Kramer