I found an article about a school in Missouri and a kid who got in trouble over her “Jesus, he scares the hell out of you” t-shirt. Christian themed clothes tend to be tacky by design (almost kitchy, if that word can ever be applied to shirts), but fashion sense or no sense, I think the school was right to claim the word “Hell” was inappropriate for any class wear. 12 year old Michelle Ramirez was told she’d have to turn it inside out or call home for another. When she did called home, her mother said she could wear it if she wanted, so she remained in school with it that day, but wound up sitting in the guidance office instead of class.
Her mother insists Michelle chose to wear it as literal, like people would wear any promotional or advertising shirts. To that I say, this makes the school even more right. I’ll quote from another t-shirt selling site:
A T shirt is read 3,000 times before it winds up in the
rag bag. You can be a walking message of God’s love.
If her intention was to ultimately proselytize with it, that’s nothing she should be doing during school hours. Christian Post has a quote from her mother’s interview with Fox news:
“To us, hell is a place… It’s not… She’s not using it as a slang. So if she’s not using it as a slang, then the shirt should be okay,” commented her mother, Christina Ramirez.
“It’s federal law that you cannot ask a student to remove an emblem, insignia, or garment including a religious emblem,”
I don’t know if that’s true or not, but this isn’t a case of a cross or a rosary, though. It’s a garish t-shirt and if the school has a policy against certain types of clothes and if this shirt qualifies because the word “hell” is stamped on it (no matter how the family interprets the word), then they have every right to uphold their policy here. From the Post again:
Though Ramirez and her family felt a double standard in the school’s position, where other classmates wore shirts with gang insinuations – one shirt even reading, “We kick balls” – she stated that she would not wear the shirt to school again after she and her father read a passage in the Bible on Thursday that said Jesus respected the law of the land.
Apparently she got the shirt through her youth group, and the designed picked to be intentionally in-your-face. It shouldn’t be considered religious persecution, but I’m sure that’s how Ramirez and company want to be spinning it. If the school has let her wear other Jesus themed clothes without comment before, she’s probably not banned from doing it. Maybe the school will have to take another look at their clothing guidelines and make sure all the students are aware of what’s appropriate for class wear and start cracking down on more kids.
This has put me in mind of a couple questionable shirts I had once. One featured a cartoon duck with the words “Duck off!” stamped on it and I swear by everything chocolate that I did not make any connection to a swear word at the time. I was mortified when teachers told me to turn it inside out and call home. I don’t think I ever wore it again either.
The other was a Bart Simpson “Underachiever and proud of it, man!” shirt. There wasn’t much teachers could say about that one, given my grades. Clearly I wore it ironically.
Personally, I think it’s unfortunate that kids are taught to believe in hell in the first place. Surely a message about Jesus being great could be include less ultimatum, believe or else…