A North Carolina teenager, Ariana Iacono, has gained ACLU support in her fight for religious freedom for The Church of Body Modification after her high-school suspended her twice for wearing a stud in her nose, a decision which, she argues, violates her her constitutional right to freedom of religion .
UK Daily Mail: The teenager and her mother Nikki both belong to the small religious group, which has its own clergy as well as a statement of beliefs.
The church, which is said to have about 3,500 members (3,450 more than Terry Jones’ much more widely supported Koran Burning sect of cultic Christianity) is headed locally by Richard Ivey, the girl’s minister. Ivey “describes the church as a non-theistic faith that draws people who see tattoos, piercings and other physical alterations as ways of experiencing the divine.”
The Daily Mail report continues, saying, “Her suspension has now led to accusations school officials are setting themselves up as judges of what constitutes a ‘real’ religion.”
A worthy question. Could it be political power, enough so that any attempt to quash your rights will meet with stiff enough resistance to make it more trouble than it’s worth?
Ivey: ‘They’re basically saying, because they don’t agree and because they choose not to respect our beliefs, that it can’t be a sincerely held religious belief,’ he said.
Though a bit unusual, if we’re to take the right to worship freely as ‘serious,’ who’s place is it to decide which abstractions are ‘real’ and which are mere fancy?