Should It Be Illegal to Have a Rosary in School?

Press Release


July 21, 1997

John W. Whitehead
Founder and President

For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Brent Perry (713) 781-0771 or
Rita Woltz (804) 978-3888
E-Mail: [email protected]


Now Caney, Texas – A Texas case involving the right of two public high school students to wear rosary beads at school is set to go to trial tomorrow. The Rutherford Institute filed suit earlier this year against the school after the school board refused to stop its discriminatory policy.

The principal of Now Caney High School told David Chalifoux and Jerry Robertson that they were not permitted to wear rosary beads as a necklace on the outside of their clothing because the beads resembled symbols that Houston gangs are identified with. The boys’ parents and lawyer met with the school board to plead their case, but the board refused to Intervene and stop the anti-religious policy. David and Jerry have not yet been suspended, but the principal has directed teachers to send the boys to his office If they are caught wearing the rosaries. Neither David nor Jerry are involved with any gang activity.

“We want the judge to focus on two things,” said Brent Perry, a Rutherford Institute affiliate attorney who is handling the case. “First, police officers do not consider these rosary beads gang-related. Second, the school has identified no limitations on its ability to suppress students’ activity when gang issues are involved. And if there are no limitations, then students are in a police state.”

The bench trial is set to begin at 10:00 a.m. in Judge David Hittner’s U.S. courtroom in Houston.

“The government is often most dangerous when its intentions are good,” said Rita Woltz, legal coordinator for The Rutherford Institute. “Few could argue with efforts to reduce gang activity, But using the means of censoring religious symbols to reach the end of reducing gang activity is neither acceptable nor justifiable.”

The Rutherford Institute is an international, nonprofit civil liberties organization specializing in the defense of religious liberty.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.