Judge Luigi Tosti discharged for refusing to serve beneath the crucifix

Yesterday the Italian judge Luigi Tosti was officially discharged for refusing to serve in a courtroom adorned with the crucifix. The crucifix is a mandatory presence in all Italian public offices, classrooms, courtrooms and police stations. If you are a non-Catholic, non-believer or believer with respect for separation of church and state, well…you’re out of luck.

Tosti “had repeadedly and in vain called for the removal of the crucifix from the courtrooms” – according to the UAAR’s website – “or, instead, that all other religious symbols, and in particular the Jewish menorah, be displayed as well.” We can now see what that reasonable request got him.

What sickens me is that the Italian government is incapable of abiding by its own secular constitution. What’s worse is when they attempt to throw the crucifix at us as if it were itself the very symbol of the secular nature of the state. It is incessantly referred to as neutral, silent, universal. A gathering place for Jew and Gentile, believer and non-believer. The most ecumenical goddamn thing you ever saw. How can you not just love it?

What is neutral about the Inquisition? What is silent about the Crusades? What is universal about any religious confession?

They like to use those words because they are abuzz with secular meaning. It’s a bit rich, though, coming from men like Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and Joseph Ratzinger, and not unlike Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prattling on about “human rights” at the UN. But anyone can see that it’s a pack of lies; the crucifix is as divisive a symbol as ever humanity has devised.

But this isn’t about the sordid history of the crucifix as symbol of religious might and theocratic muscle; it’s about freedom from religion. It’s about the neutrality of the state in religious affairs.

This week Italy celebrates its 150th birthday; it was born in opposition to that very same august religious institution – the Catholic Church – that it kneels before today. Three days from now, on March 18, the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg will give its final decision as to whether the public display of the crucifix is unconstitutional. You can be sure that, no matter what, not a single crucifix will come down. If the Vatican is indeed a sinking ship, Italy has vowed to go down with it, crucifix in hand.

This is a mischievous pact. There is no religious equality here, no breathing room from state-sponsored Roman Catholicism. Not even a judge is safe from the maw of this weasel-theocracy, the kind without even the courage to call itself one. Given the choice between safeguarding the constitutional rights of its citizens and kowtowing to the gluttonous bishops, Italy consistently chooses the latter. What a disgrace.

16 thoughts on “Judge Luigi Tosti discharged for refusing to serve beneath the crucifix

  1. “Since the revision of the 1929 Lateran Pacts of between Italy and the Holy See in 1984, the issue of displaying the crucifix in public buildings such as schools, hospitals and law-courts has been controversial and the subject of much debate.”
    http://www.ejpress.org/article/2490
    Did Tosti not want to replace the crucifix with a menorah?

    1. Well, the revisions of 1984 removed the concept of state religion that went back to the Fascist period. Italy technically has no state-mandated religion. Since 2000 the crucifix cannot be displayed in a polling station, for obvious reasons. Clearly, those same reasons should undermine its presence in all public buildings. Tosti, in my understanding, attempted to add a menorah, not replace the crucifix with one. Of course, no other religious symbols are allowed, and you can’t take down the one that is, so there’s really nothing to do but refuse. That’s a bid for freedom of conscience.

      Of course, even if the crucifixes were all to come down tomorrow, we would still have Catholic religious teaching in all public schools. One step at a time. I think this is a battle that will be won, though, because men like Tosti are so obviously in the right. Thanks for your comment, Marie-Thérèse.

      1. Mr Tosti asked to be allowed to show a menorah together with the crucifix as a second choice, since they had not accepted his request to remove all the crucifixes from all Italian courtrooms. Of course they refused even this second chance which makes Tosti a victim of an unfair law-system.
        I’m sure that European Court for Human Rights will fix this injustice too.

  2. Vi ringrazio tutti per la solidarietà e la stima. Io sono ateo. In un primo momento ho esposto il simbolo dell’UAAR (Unione Atei Agnostici Razionalisti italiani) a fianco del crocifisso, rivendicando come ateo gli stessi diritti dei cattolici: questo simbolo è stato immediatamente rimosso perché si è ritenuto che offendesse la sensibilità dei cattolici.
    Successivamente, allora, ho chieso di poter esporre la menorà ebraica a fianco del crocifisso, ricordando le parole di papa Ratzinger che sostiene che le radici culturali dell’Europa sarebbero “giudaico-cristiane”. L’ho fatto perché so che i cattolici sono degli ipocriti razzisti e che non avrebbero mai consentito che il simbolo degli ebrei fosse esposto a fianco del crocifisso. E, in effetti, ho avuto ragione, perché mi è stato negato anche questo perché, evidentemente, anche la menorà offende la sensibilità dei “superiori” cattolici.
    Grazie ancora.
    Luigi Tosti

    1. Lei e un eroe. Saluti di Australia.

      (I hope that made sense. I was just translating in my head what I would’ve said in Spanish: Usted es un eroe. Saludos de Australia.)

  3. I admire the courage that Judge Tosti has shown in standing up for the separation of church and state. I am appalled at people who claim a crucifix is in any way neutral. If it is neutral why is it so important to them that it be displayed? I am sorry to see Judge Tosti being treated so unfairly.

    1. There’s nothing neutral about it. The only intention is to proselytize for Catholicism, to say, “Hey, this is Italy, we’re Catholic, and if you don’t like it – tough shit.” I’m amazed and appalled that Strasbourg bought the appeal whole hog. It’s very troubling. Thanks for your comment, Ruth.

  4. Hopefully Judge Tosti will someday be recognized for his actions and be rewarded, not persecuted for wanting to follow the letter of the law (seperation of religion and state), and not the intent of the law as interpreted by people who can not defferentiate their religous beliefes from legal issues.

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