Topic

religious freedom

33 petitions

Update posted 1 week ago

Petition to American Civil Liberties Union- Ohio, Therese B. Hernandez, Fr. Matthew Rader, Marlena Kleine, Dr. Vincent DePaul Schmidt, Most Reverend Daniel E. Thomas /Rev. Msgr. Christopher P. Vasko, Ohio Department of Education

Unlock Biases Toward African Americans With With Natural Hair and Locs in School

Presenting Complaint In Toledo, Ohio, Central Catholic High School, a private school, has a rule in their student handbook with regard to unacceptable hairstyles. While some styles on the list may pertain to all students, two styles in particular, are specific to African Americans. This hairstyle rule has landed one student in jeopardy of serving detention.  Background Story Malachi Wattley, a freshman at the school, applied for and was accepted into the school while wearing his hair in locs, a hairstyle which he has had since the age of 2. His mother, Maylin Wattley, stated to the local news, that her son  was raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and that he is Rastafarian, a religious and spiritual belief. Ms. Wattley stated that prior to enrolling her son, whose sister is already a student, the school assured her that his hair would not be a problem.  During the last school week, an announcement was made over the PA system, that dreadlocks are not an acceptable hairstyle. When Wattley returned to school following this announcement with his dreadlocks, he was disciplined and given a citation for detention.  The handbook reads for gentlemen students:   Fad hairstyles (spikes, mohawks, dreadlocks, twisty's, ponytails, carvings or man-buns) are not accepted. The assistant principal of campus ministry and discipline is the final judge of what isacceptable.  For ladies: All hair must be a natural color, neat, clean and well groomed (no dreadlocks).  This is a major issue because the rules show a bias against the hair that African Americans are born with. Per the language written by the school, these styles are being called "fad" hairstyles and are considered unclean, not well groomed, not neat and essentially unacceptable.  This rule has been adopted in the school by-laws based on perceptions and assumptions of what natural hair is and looks like. Not only is this discrimination against a culture, it is also discrimination against a spiritual belief. The school prides itself in being "diverse" although this rule contradicts it. Locked in Time This is the second time Central Catholic has been under public scrutiny because they were challenged in 2011 when a senior, who was enrolling for classes, was told that her dreadlocks were unacceptable and she was to cut them off prior to returning. The school, after receiving many letters and phone calls, eliminated the rule in their online handbook, to appease those who called. That student was permitted to complete her high school education and graduate without incident.  However, they kept their in-print handbook the same throughout the years.  Cultural Insensitivity and Bias This school, like others as well as employers around the US, should be educated on what natural hair is and what styles are worn by those who have natural hair, the hair that African Americans are born with. Being told that their twists or locs are unacceptable is an infringement on their rights to be who they organically are, melanated, with curly, coily and fluffy. Hair that naturally grows upward, has long been banned in school and employee policies. When Afro hair is groomed, it is most often fashioned into braids, twists and locs; to ban this from any institution is a subtle effort to remind African Americans that they are not welcome or accepted as they are, lest they change or alter themselves in a way that is more comfortable for others. Even in that, the African American will always be considered threatening, hard, angry, aggressive, unintelligent, special needs or unacceptable.  Although a private school, the Catholic Diocese should ensure that they are not infringing on anti-discrimination laws when writing their guidelines. Other schools have used terms in their handbooks referring to Black hairstyles such as afros, puffs, cornrows and twisted braids as unacceptable hairstyles as well.  Call to Action It is time to have a conversation to inspire change, about Black Hair, providing school staff and administrators with proper education and information with regard to the grooming practices of African Americans, especially their hair. It is time to change the antiquated rules that further oppress them. This school cannot offer a rational reason for this rule and are not treating its students with unbiased acceptance and respect.  This is a rule that is being enforced in many schools across the U.S. including Butler Traditional High School in Louisville, KY who had a "no natural hair" policy; St. Joseph's College; Horizon Science Academy, Lorain, OH. The struggle continues in cities around the United States and in other countries. With the current racial climate, the policing of African American's hair is becoming a greater issue that must be addressed now. Let's start with OHIO. I am a loctician and have been cultivating locs for over 10 years; natural hair for more than 20 years. I was born and raised in Ohio and have been conducting workshops to educate others on natural hair since 2007. Ohio already has harsh laws and requirements on the education and licensing of natural hairstylists that they are unwilling to change despite recent small efforts to modify a law on braiding. Now is the time to speak up  and create change about what is important to the building of positive self esteem in young African American students. Let's move toward a more inclusive system, accepting people regardless of their race, culture, hairstyle and religion.       

Ohio Natural Hair Coalition
1,250 supporters
Update posted 3 weeks ago

Petition to Freedom to Pray, T-Mobile, T-Mobile Media Relations

#KeepPrayerFree & stop T-Mobile from charging callers for prayer on free conference lines

Prayer should never come with a cost. The right to pray for free is under attack by T-Mobile. Despite its aggressive advertising campaign – including Super Bowl spots – positioning the company as the #Uncarrier for offering the “first unlimited subscription” void of surcharges, bogus fees and assorted taxes, the mobile conglomerate is waging a war on prayer. T-Mobile is blatantly, but surreptitiously charging an additional $0.01 per minute to customers who call prayer lines using free conference call services. One such service that has been affected is FreeConferenceCall.com, of which tens of thousands of prayer line callers have been affected by these charges and have taken to social media to voice their opinions about T-Mobile. Many T-Mobile customers call into prayer lines multiple times a week to pray with others for long periods of time, resulting in hundreds of dollars a year added to their service plan costs. By forcing them to pay additional fees for these calls, T-Mobile is effectively cutting off a spiritual lifeline for its loyal customers who cannot afford these charges. We are asking for your help to take action to prevent T-Mobile and any other greedy cellphone carriers who follow suit from gouging and targeting prayer customers with unnecessary and unfair costs. We strongly urge everyone interested in maintaining religious liberty to support the right of all people to pray together, free of costs and other barriers. Please call upon T-Mobile and any other corporations considering similar action to stop charging customers unfair, punitive and discriminatory fees that were designed to prevent faithful people of all religions from praying for free. Help the millions of individuals who utilize these services for prayer by signing this petition. 

Freedom to Pray
7,706 supporters
Started 1 month ago

Petition to Department of Education

Put Christ Back in Schools!

Salutations, everyone! I am proud to be an Apostolic Pentecostal Christian! Many people in the world should hear the gospel and plan of salvation that Jesus gives us. In Matthew 24:6, according to the Bible it states, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." This can start in schools. Think about this world today. The people of America is trying to take Jesus out of everything. Some want to take God out of the pledge of Allegiance and currency, but this country was built on Christian foundations. Nowadays, many Christian students are being challenged with their faith both out and in schools. We are getting in trouble for praying and talking to others about Jesus in classrooms, hallways, and cafeterias, but I will not shut my mouth! I know that everyone has different beliefs and practice different religions, but when I was in sixth grade, I learned about the world's most practiced five religions. Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam in that order. The only problem was that Christianity was the only religion that we learned that was so brief and short. We were not taught in our schools about Jesus resurrecting from the dead and the promise of the Holy Ghost.  The text book only mentioned Catholicism and and East Orthodox Christianity (only mentioning where it started) but what about the other forms of Christianity? And then, Islam was the longest unit. I'm not pointing fingers or meaning to be disrespectful, but there were two chapters while Judaism and Christianity were the shortest and had one. It seems to me that something suspicious is going on. My teacher was even saying that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam believed in the same God. I strongly disbelief. I do believe in the one true God that the Jews believe in, but I also believe that He is the messiah, Jesus. I'm just saying that there's something fishy going on here. What about learning how America's first religion practiced here was Christianity? The pilgrims came to America to practice their faith in God freely. We have freedom of religion in this country. We've been taught that all our lives and it's written in the Bill of Rights. So why are Christians getting in trouble and told to be quiet for speaking out their faith to others? We all have the freedom to practice our religion publicly or privately and the right to pray. We're not trying to disrespect anyone and definitely not trying to get in trouble. We're just trying to win souls before Jesus comes back. America mustn't backslid from our faith in God because He's the one who's been our alley all this time!  In addition, I hope that anyone who reads this will keep this in mind. Whether you believe in Christ Jesus or not, think about our freedom of religion. That's what I'm fighting for. Thanks for reading!  

Daralyn Alicea
13 supporters