RELIGION

Albuquerque High School Shuns Rosaries, Says They're Linked To Gang Activity (VIDEO)

11/20/2012 08:28 pm ET

Ideally, high school dress codes protect students from excessive distractions that typically arrive in the form of too much skin or clothing with inappropriate imagery.

In Albuquerque, they're concerned with a different distraction: students' rosaries and crosses.

Officials at Atrisco Heritage Academy, a public high school, have instructed students that the religious items should not be visible at school, citing a link to gang activity.

In many cases, according to KOAT, students' rosaries have simply been confiscated -- an act that has both the ACLU of New Mexico and religious leaders in the city up in arms.

"I think they should understand what the rosary signifies," Deacon Robert Vigil, of the Sacred Heart Parish in Albuquerque, told KOAT. “When times are hard, people turn to their faith. What better way than with a rosary? I'd much rather have them reaching for rosaries than weapons.”

Albuquerque isn't the only city making connections between gang affiliations and the rosary. Coon Rapids High School in Coon Rapids, Minn., has also ordered the religious artifact be kept out of view.

"A new issue came up recently that is interesting regarding rosary beads. Some gangs do use them as clothing symbols." explained Bradley Johnson, a liaison officer at the school, in an emailed statement to KARE.

Rosary beads were recently banned from Thompson Valley High School in Colorado for the same reason.

In Colorado, the ban resulted in a condemning editorial from the Denver Post, which concluded the practice "runs smack into the constitutionally protected right to free exercise of religion."

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