It is rather ironic that in our quest to separate church and state, to keep any religion from being forced upon us (*cough*ChristianCoalition
*cough*) that we have also created an especially "militant" strain of people who have NO respect for religion of any strain. Let's hear it for that swinging pendulum, boys and girls....
This case you described, Thy, is almost laughable. Read the brochure, pinheads. This is a college owned by a monastary. It is a Catholic School, not a public one. Therefore, strict rules that separate church and state do not apply.
If you're going to "act all sophisticated and growed-up", then do your damned research. You have no right to complain here.
I think the seat of this isn't so much their disdain of religion as their disdain of any
type of authority. Even if this was a public school (where such displays are frowned upon if not banned outright), the way they responded was unforgivable. Anyone with an ounce of respect would have asked the teacher about it privately. At the very
least they should have raised their hand and said, "Mr. So-and-so, the cross makes me uncomfortable." No, this wasn't truly about religion; it was about respect and power, and those students didn't want to relinquish an ounce of either.
So why'd they make a fuss about a small, tastefully-displayed symbol of faith in the corner? In their case, it was because Christianity is "safe" to express indignance over. Christianity is "looked down on" in the USA for several reasons, and, unfortunately, some of them have merit:
1) One word: Fundamentalism. This has to be the worst thing to happen to Christianity since the Inquisition. Fundlets have provided such a raucus, skewed, intolerant version of Christianity that they've turned off literally anyone with the ability to think for themselves. And their habit of *ahem* interfering with laws and political candidates is enough to make anyone unfamiliar with the faith toss that Bible into the garbage.
2) Christianity is the "power broker" of religion in America, and that, in itself, can be a problem. Christianity is *everywhere* in America. You have to look around to find someplace where it isn't
the dominant belief. At best, people like rooting for the underdog.... and at worst, there's this "snob appeal" thing, where anything that the "vulgar masses" like must be ignorant, inferior, and only worthy of scorn.
3) Because the USA was created by Christian men (and women, but they weren't officially included for a couple hundred years
), Christian symbolism and specific values have permeated the entire system. The In God We Trust
phrase on coinage, and the beleaguered "under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, are relatively new, but it's only been since Ms. O'Haire raised a stink that we finally got rid of "organized" (read "expected and enforced" ) prayer in schools. Presidents, judges, and everyone who's ever been on a witness stand, all swear on the Bible. Though most of our holiday displays have been sanitized to some degree, just the fact that we shut down banks and workplaces for Christmas, but not Eid, is something that no one could possibly miss. And if you're not Christian, constantly having this "enhanced status" rubbed in your face has to hurt.....
4) Christianity has been used as an excuse for hatred and willful ignorance. It's been used to justify such odious institutions as slavery. It's been (mis)quoted to justify wife and child abuse, race hatred, constant verbal and physical attacks on gays and bisexuals, and even attacks on other sects of Christianity (let alone other religions). Some of this is the fundlet's fault, but not all. I've seen these views espoused by many an intolerant Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Episcopalian, and so on. (Now, to be fair, a LOT of other organized religions have been abused in this way, but then that leads us back to the "power broker" problem: they aren't currently the big dog on the American block.)
5) Christianity has so
many bickering sects now that it's lost a fair amount of respect. (Remember Ireland?) I don't know how many versions of Islam there are, but I don't think they number in the hundreds....
A militant *anything* is frikkin' annoying at least, and at worst a danger to themselves and others. Why? Because their militancy doesn't let them give and take, to recognize that they might *not* be speaking for all of their brethern, let alone the rest of the world. And the more diverse we become, and the more acceptable that diversity becomes, the stronger the militant fringes feel the need to lash out. Militant Aethiests HAVE to get rid of anything
that could *possibly* be construed as acknowldging a god of any type. Militant Christians *HAVE* to try and get amendments passed to "protect" their narrow vision of love and partnership. Militant Jews and Muslims *HAVE* to kick (or blow) each other off of "their" land in the Middle east, because it's THEIRS, dammit! THEIRS! THEIRS! THEIRS! No one else's!
And if you put all these militants together, with enough firepower, you'd get a large crater. And maybe the rest
of us could go about our lives in a semblence of peace.