A nun in Nebraska who teaches in a secondary school has been told that she is not allowed to wear her habit in the classroom. AP reports in The Catholic Herald.
Sr Madeleine Miller, 37, was shocked to learn that, under a little-known law nearly a century old, habits were banned.
The vaguely worded ban prohibits teachers from wearing any sort of religious clothing, from burqas to yarmulkes.
“I could have been arrested, jailed, fined or had my licence taken away if I had tried to teach,” Sr Miller said on Tuesday.
Now, state lawmakers are looking to end the ban, which was passed in 1919 under pressure from the Ku Klux Klan amid a national wave of anti-Catholic sentiment.
The law is rarely enforced but came to the attention of the senator whose district includes Norfolk Public Schools, where Sr Miller had hoped to work.
Sr Miller said a school administrator told her the district would be happy to hire her, but she couldn’t wear her habit in class.
Thirty-six states had adopted similar bans on religious garb at various points, but Nebraska and Pennsylvania are the only ones that have yet to repeal them, said Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer, sponsor of the repeal bill.
Scheer, who spent nearly two decades serving on a local school board, said he had no idea the ban was still in place but argued that it violates teachers’ free-speech rights.
Photo: Nebraska state law outlaws habits in public classrooms (AP)