Ariana Iacono, a 14-year-old girl from North Carolina, is a member of the Church of Body Modification (as is her mother). While the Church of Body Modification doesn’t worship a God, its members adhere to a type of religion which involves tattooing or body piercings as a method of experiencing spirituality. While only 2 years old, the Church does have several thousand members and a code of beliefs. So when Ariana’s school suspended her for wearing a nose ring (which isn’t permitted in the school’s dress code, although it does allow adjustments for religious dress), she and her mother claimed it was an infringement of her First Amendment rights. With the ACLU now on their side, Ariana’s mother says this is a case of close-mindedness: “We pretty much flat-out asked [the school], what guidelines are you following? What do you need to establish a sincere religious belief? We were told that if we were Hindu, or she were Muslim, it would be different.” The ACLU believes the Iaconos have a strong case, however the last incident involving a member of the Church of Body Modification didn’t end in their favor—a woman was fired from Costco because of an eyebrow piercing, however courts “eventually ruled that her religious beliefs did not require her to always wear her jewelry.” It’s unclear if this is the situation with Ariana and her nose ring.
What do you make of this scandal? Think schools shouldn’t be able to place restrictions on “less conventional” religions? Or that the nose ring should just stay at home? [Star-Telegram]