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Asking the clergy about religious jewelry

Is there any harm to religious jewelry as a fashion trend?

Pastor Mary Wells, Wells and Wells Tabernacle, Huntington:

I think wearing a cross or other religious symbols should symbolize that they're believers. Some ministers carry a cross in their left pocket to symbolize that their congregation is kept near to their hearts.

I'm OK with people who wear religious jewelry. And, if you wear it long enough, something of the practices or thoughts of the behavior will rub off on you. Just by the practice of putting that cross on every day may make you more mindful of your behavior. I use the example of when two friends spend a lot of time together and start to use the same phrases and similar behavior. Simply by association, something begins to affect your behavior.

Rabbi Michael Eisenstein, Congregation Beth Israel, Hempstead:

I used to wear jewelry, but now I only wear a wedding band. I think it is a personal preference. I can understand people choosing to wear the star of David, but I have a problem with people wearing the Mezuzah, which is a parchment containing a biblical verse. It is supposed to be hung on a door, unless you consider your body a house or fence post.

In general, when jewelry becomes bling, that bothers me. Maybe because I was the victim of a chain snatch. It was the last gift my mother had given me before she died.

I think religion should be between the person and God. I don't think it needs to be shown. If you're in the business world, you don't necessarily wear perfume. The same may be true with religious jewelry. If you want to wear it, maybe you put it inside your shirt or blouse.

Heide Banks, The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, Southampton:

Wearing religious jewelry is not a new trend, because people were wearing crucifixes, stars of David and the Hamsa, sometimes referred to as the Hand of Fatima, as far back as the beginning of time. While many people are against the worship of idols, jewelry is seen as a connection to the divine. Anything that reminds us that we're connected to something bigger than ourselves as a guiding force is wonderful.

I asked the question of a friend who is a jewelry designer, and she said, "What could be wrong with feeling more empowered, connected and protected?"

It seems like in the last few years, the jewelry has gotten bigger and more ornate. Is it purely a fashion statement? Or are we feeling a greater need for the connection to the divine in these troubled times, similar to when people wore peace symbols in the 1960s, because it is calming?

Even if it is a fashion trend, if it brings comfort to you and doesn't alienate others, it is a good thing. Jewelry will never take the place of faith. It should be a reminder, but it is prayer and your good works that connect us. I wear a Hu ring, which is an ancient symbol for God. I wear it to remind myself that when I speak, I'm speaking God's words.

Pastor Richard Wezik,First Baptist Church, Hempstead:

In our church, we don't put any significance on wearing religious jewelry. I don't wear a cross. We don't bless any kind of jewelry, nor do we think religious jewelry has any kind of spiritual value. We tell our ladies of the church that if they wear jewelry, that's OK. Just don't be a walking jewelry store.

By not encouraging the wearing of religious jewelry, I guess there is a message there. Don't wear our savior as jewelry or as a tattoo. I would quote Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

We should try to let our lives, not jewelry, be our adornment. I also would discourage the wearing of big crosses. You don't wear religion on your sleeve. If God has worked in your life, your life should be poetry in motion. You don't need any outside adornment to show that. It will be in the way you speak and live your life.

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