A Catholic state trooper for the South Carolina Highway Patrol informed us that he was ordered by his supervisor to remove ashes from his forehead on Ash Wednesday. The trooper had come on duty after attending church that day.
The trooper was told to wipe off the ashes on the grounds that they violated Highway Patrol uniform policy.
After refusing to remove the ashes (and after completing his shift that day without incident), the trooper told us that he contacted his captain, who then contacted the troop’s legal department to seek a ruling.
The legal department is currently reviewing the Highway Patrol’s policy.
As troubling as this story was, at least the state trooper in question was able to finish his shift without actually having to remove his Ash Wednesday ashes, as ordered by his supervisor. The poor high-school girl who encountered the anti-Catholic substitute teacher on Ash Wednesday in Georgia did not fare quite as well.