In a letter today to leaders of the Oregon legislature, the Baptist Joint Committee and other religious liberty advocates called on the state to repeal its outdated law forbidding teachers from wearing religious clothing.
Oregon has missed several opportunities to repeal ORS 342.650 over the course of several decades and is currently one of only three states in the nation that forbid public school teachers from wearing religious dress in the classroom.
Supporters of the status quo have argued that allowing public school teachers to wear religious dress will disrupt religious neutrality in the classroom and lead to proselytization of students. Both propositions are factually incorrect. The private act of wearing religious dress in adherence to faith is distinguishable from the public act of asserting a proselytizing message. The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution affords sufficient protection against state endorsement of religion; banning all forms of religious dress for teachers is a prohibitively overbroad approach to the issue.
They're right. Wearing a cross around your neck, or a turban on your head is not an act of indoctrination. While teachers need to guard against sending religious messages in the classroom, they don't have to stop being religious people just to walk into the building. Read the letter, also signed by the American Jewish Committee, the American Islamic Congress, the Interfaith Alliance, the Sikh Coalition, and others, here (pdf).