The curious tale of Mrs Soile Lautsi

The Theos team have pointed me to the curious story of the the atheist Finn, Mrs Soile Lautsi.

Mrs Lautsi moved to Italy over a decade ago, took objection to the crucifix on the wall in her child’s classroom and took the school to court. Improbably, the case not only found its way all the way to the European Court of Human Rights but the court found in favour of Mrs Lautsi, on the grounds that the crucifix was of religious as well as of cultural significance and “what may be encouraging for some religious pupils may be emotionally disturbing for pupils of other religions or those who profess no religion.” (See here, para. 55)

So there it was. One atheist, migrating to a new and somewhat foreign country and culture, used her prejudice against Christianity, combined it with a dash of human rights law, a helping of secularism, and an almighty dollop of moral indignation to bring to an end to a tradition that is 1,500 years old, give or take a century or so.

As The Guardian’s Michael White put it, “Crucifixes? Italy? Where did Soile Lautsi think she was moving to live? Thailand? What will she campaign to ban next? Pizza, the Mafia, bling, cheating at football?”

Sanity was eventually restored when Mrs Lautsi’s case went, on appeal, to the Grand Chamber. The earlier decision was overturned by fifteen votes to two, on the basis that the matter was, in principle, for the Italian Government to determine rather than the Court.

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