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11 September 2010

The Church of Body Modification is in the local news. What's your take?
It made me roll my eyes.
posted by Stewriffic 11 September | 12:25
High school was hell for me, as an adherent of The Church of No Pants.
posted by BoringPostcards 11 September | 12:59
It is not for a school administrator to decide what constitutes a religion or not. Regardless of which figment they worship or how they do so, religious groups, like other social clubs, help many individuals develop personal strength and belief in themselves. If the young woman's nose ring carried with it a significant health risk, the school could reasonably prohibit it. It doesn't, and so this seems like yet another case of a local majority bullying a tiny minority. Claims from the administration of the nose ring's disruptiveness ring hollow when compared with the disruption the principal caused by picking on one formerly troubled girl.

If there is a ban on wearing hats in school, exceptions are made for the Jewish kids who must wear a kipa. This is essentially the same thing.
posted by Hugh Janus 11 September | 13:01
As someone who's too scared to even pierce an ear or get a tatoo, a lot of that stuff gives me the willies but obviously they don't have the same phobias I do and they own their own bodies. As for the school thing, I'm so glad that school officials don't have anything better than to harass a teen-age girl for having a nose ring. It doesn't even matter if it's a "real" religion or not, leave the kids alone.

I love the comment to the article, "OH WHAT BULL. The bible also says a person is not to deface their body, that it is the temple of the Lord. The schools should not allow this." So allowing religious expression is wrong but forcing another religion on students is OK?

posted by octothorpe 11 September | 13:05
It is not for a school administrator to decide what constitutes a religion or not.

Ding ding ding! We have a winning answer!
posted by Elsa 11 September | 13:12
I guess the nose ring as a religious expression is a slam dunk, but my concern would be some of the more extreme body modding you see on the Church's website. Can a teenager be allowed to split her tongue as part of her religious beliefs? One of the ministers claimed he grew up JW and left his religion at eighteen. What about this girl or any other children of serious adherents? What if they experience body modding that can't be undone if they decide to leave their faith?
posted by msali 11 September | 13:35
What if they experience body modding that can't be undone if they decide to leave their faith?

Eh, that's not for the schools to deal with.

I don't think the religion will gain enough followers for it to be an issue for most people. If a parent is forcing these things on a kid, then there's likely other crap going on that will be (hopefully) dealt with via the normal means (CPS, law).

I have a finite amount of mental space I can spare to give a shit about others*, so this is one of those outrage battles I can't muster up the energy to worry about.

*Finite, not low. And the tank's close to full as it is. Ever note that when your own shit-barrel is overflowing that you can't give a care about those you don't know?
posted by Stewriffic 11 September | 14:06
It's not a religion, it's a fetish.
posted by Doohickie 11 September | 15:49
Funny, that's what a certain Roman prefect said, too.
posted by Hugh Janus 11 September | 15:56
Oh-ho, quite the knee-slapper there, Mr. Hickie!
posted by Ardiril 11 September | 16:06
I have yet to figure out why the hell any school gives a good goddamn what a kid wears or why. Can she learn with a nose ring? Yes? Fine, okay, nose ring not a problem. Schools wrap themselves in insane knots over the most ridiculous issues - meanwhile, kids are dropping out and getting nowhere. Why not devote some of that outrage towards important things like education?
posted by mygothlaundry 11 September | 16:19
It's not even a nose ring - it's a tiny stud.

If they want to play the policy game, they have to play it straight, to my mind. If the policy allows exceptions for religious reasons and the CoBM is a recognised religion, they have no choice but to allow it. You don't get to pull the policy card and make judgements about suitability - you have to pick one.

But, you know, I'm with stew on this one, to be honest.
posted by dg 11 September | 16:44
What mygothlaundry said.
posted by gomichild 11 September | 18:16
Oh-ho, quite the knee-slapper there, Mr. Hickie!

It wasn't at attempt at a tongue-in-cheek comment or a joke, Ardiril. After reading through the church's website, that's my reaction.

In their FAQs, they say
no, simply being a member of the Church of Body Modification will not keep you from being fired due to your body modifications.

The article says that the employee issue has already gone to court over this and the church lost.

For a student, a relationship similar exists with the school replacing the employer. They are trying to play both sides of the issue, saying to compromise WITHOUT compromising your personal beliefs and spirituality.

Also in the FAQs,
Is the Church real?
Usually, when people talk about a church being real or “Federally recognized,” they are talking about two things – incorporation as a non-profit entity doing business within a particular state, and a tax-exempt status from the IRS as a non-profit entity. In both of these ways, yes, the Church is real.

From the tone of the answer I get the sense that they don't quite believe they are a religion but they've managed to be recognized as such by the government.

Given, for the sake of argument, that it is a valid religion, they don't seem to mandate that one wears piercings 24/7. The line about "WITHOUT compromising your personal beliefs and spirituality" sounds too much like, "if it feels good, do it" which is too vague, I think, to claim the religious practice requires it.

I tend to think the school is overreacting though. It's only a disruption if they let it be. My wife teaches at a school that allows piercings as long as they don't pose a threat.
posted by Doohickie 11 September | 22:02
Oh, too bad, cuz that was a good one.
posted by Ardiril 11 September | 22:32
What's the good of a piercing if it doesn't pose a threat?
posted by Obscure Reference 12 September | 08:44
...Ariana said of her piercing. "I feel whole."

posted by iamkimiam 13 September | 10:21
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