muslims can pray in schools, but not christians

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by actsnoblemartin, Jul 3, 2007.

  1. actsnoblemartin
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    actsnoblemartin I love Andrea & April

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    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20070702-9999-1n2prayer.html

    Muslim prayers in school debated

    S.D. elementary at center of dispute
    By Helen Gao
    UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

    July 2, 2007

    A San Diego public school has become part of a national debate over religion in schools ever since a substitute teacher publicly condemned an Arabic language program that gives Muslim students time for prayer during school hours.
    Carver Elementary in Oak Park added Arabic to its curriculum in September when it suddenly absorbed more than 100 students from a defunct charter school that had served mostly Somali Muslims.

    After subbing at Carver, the teacher claimed that religious indoctrination was taking place and said that a school aide had led Muslim students in prayer.

    An investigation by the San Diego Unified School District failed to substantiate the allegations. But critics continue to assail Carver for providing a 15-minute break in the classroom each afternoon to accommodate Muslim students who wish to pray. (Those who don't pray can read or write during that non-instructional time.)

    Some say the arrangement at Carver constitutes special treatment for a specific religion that is not extended to other faiths. Others believe it crosses the line into endorsement of religion.

    Supporters of Carver say such an accommodation is legal, if not mandatory, under the law. They note the district and others have been sued for not accommodating religious needs on the same level as non-religious needs, such as a medical appointment.

    Islam requires its adherents to pray at prescribed times, one of which falls during the school day.

    While some parents say they care more about their children's education than a debate about religious freedom, the allegations – made at a school board meeting in April – have made Carver the subject of heated discussions on conservative talk radio. District officials have been besieged by letters and phone calls, some laced with invective.

    The issue has drawn the attention of national groups concerned about civil rights and religious liberty. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Anti-Defamation League, American Civil Liberties Union and the Pacific Justice Institute are some of the groups monitoring developments in California's second-largest school district.

    Among the critics is Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel with the nonprofit, Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center devoted to “defending the religious freedom of Christians.”

    He said he's “against double standards being used,” such as when there is a specific period for Muslim students to pray and not a similar arrangement for Christians.
    Carver's supporters noted that Christianity and other religions, unlike Islam, do not require their followers to pray at specific times that fall within school hours, when children by law must be in school. Amid the controversy, the district is studying alternatives to the break to accommodate student prayer.

    Capitalizing on what it considers a precedent-setting opportunity created by the Carver situation, the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute has offered to help craft a districtwide “Daily Prayer Time Policy.”

    In a letter, the religious-rights organization urged the district to broaden its accommodations to Christians and Jews by setting aside separate classrooms for daily prayer and to permit rabbis, priests and other religious figures to lead children in worship on campuses.

    A lawyer representing the district said those ideas would violate the Constitution's prohibition against government establishment of religion.

    The uproar over Carver comes as schools across the country grapple with how to accommodate growing Muslim populations. In recent weeks, the University of Michigan's Dearborn campus has been divided over using student fees to install foot-washing stations on campus to make it easier for Muslim students to cleanse themselves before prayer.

    “These things are surfacing more and more in many places where large communities of Muslims are coming in and trying to say this is our right,” said Antoine Mefleh, a non-Muslim who is an Arabic language instructor with the Minneapolis public schools.

    His school allows Muslim students to organize an hour of prayer on Fridays – Muslims typically have Friday congregational prayers – and make up class work they miss as a result. During the rest of the week, students pray during lunch or recess.

    The San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations supports the Carver program.

    “Our country is transforming demographically, religiously,” said Edgar Hopida, the chapter's public relations director. “Our country has to now accommodate things that are not traditionally accounted for before.”

    Carol Clipper, who is the guardian of two grandchildren enrolled in the school's Arabic program, said she believes students should be “given the freedom” to pray. Clipper is Christian, and her grandchildren are being raised in both Islam and Christianity.

    “I take them to the mosque and they go to church with me,” she said.

    Another parent, Tony Peregrino, whose son is not in the Arabic program, said he's OK with the Muslim students praying. What he cares about, he said, is that teachers are doing their job, and his son's education is not affected.

    Courts have ruled on a series of school prayer cases over the past half-century, but legal scholars say a lack of clarity remains.

    “This is an area where the law is notoriously erratic,” said Steven Smith, a constitutional law professor at the University of San Diego.

    Voluntary prayers by students are protected private speech, the courts have said. That means students can say grace before a meal and have Bible study clubs on campus, and several San Diego schools do. Public school employees, however, cannot lead children in prayer on campus.

    Students also can be excused for religious holidays, such as Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, and Good Friday during Holy Week.

    The federal Equal Access Act requires that extracurricular school clubs, religious and non-religious, be treated equally.

    San Diego Unified was sued in 1993 when it denied a University City High School student's request to hold lunchtime Bible fellowship. The court found the district discriminated against religion, because it allowed secular clubs to meet during lunch.

    Brent North, a lawyer retained by the district to address concerns related to the Carver program, said the district learned from the University City High case to be “careful about restricting students' right to their own private religious expression, including when it's on campus.”

    The district cites Department of Education guidelines on prayer:

    “Where school officials have a practice of excusing students from class on the basis of parents' requests for accommodation of non-religious needs, religiously motivated requests for excusal may not be accorded less favorable treatment.”

    The midday prayer for Muslims here generally falls between 1 and 2 p.m., North said, and that is before the school day ends.

    “What is unique about this request is the specificity of the religious requirement that a prayer be offered at a certain time on the clock,” he said.

    North went on to say, “The district's legal obligation in response to a request that a prayer must be performed at a particular time is to treat that request the same as it would treat a student's request to receive an insulin shot at a particular time.”

    Mefleh, the Minneapolis Arabic instructor, said he allows his Muslim students to pray at the end of class during the monthlong observance of Ramadan, Islam's holiest period.

    “Some accommodation has to come from both sides,” he said. “I just tell them prayer is good. Class is good, too. Your time is precious. You have to come to an agreement with them without making a big fuss. If you want to pray, I understand, but I don't want to interrupt the class too much.”

    Helen Gao: (619) 718-5181; helen.gao@uniontrib.com
     
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  2. RetiredGySgt
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    Muslims get special treatment because liberals think they can get votes from them by doing so. Once again it is a matter of allowing special treatment that in any other case of the majority would be hotly contended to be "Unconstitutional".

    As to the College level stuff, the college is free to do as it feels in regards foot washes, adding a fee to all students could though result in demands for other things by other groups using as justification that fee.
     
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  3. Truthmatters
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    Wow ,you guys dont seem to get it do you?

    Our whole school system is designed around the christian religion.

    Why do you think there are no classes on sunday?

    When another religion gets accomodated in like fashion as christianity you cant keep your cool.

    I truely wish people would learn to live up to the idea of freedom of religion and separation of church and state.
     
  4. RetiredGySgt
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    You mean by allowing non Christian religions special treatment? IF the seperation of Church and State really exists in the manner you Liberals claim, YOU should be hot and heavy AGAINST any religion being given special privaleges, allowed time other religions are not, given space other religions are not, etc etc.....
     
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  5. Kagom
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    Kagom Senior Member

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    Thing is, Christians don't have mandatory prayer. Muslims do. They HAVE to pray 3 times a day.
     
  6. Mr.Conley
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    Mr.Conley Senior Member

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    Well, the Supreme Court has issued quite a number of rulings on the issue of school prayer, the most prominent of those being probably Engel v. Vitale, which got the whole school prayer ball really rolling, Lemon v. Kurtzman, which to this day guides justices in these sorts of cases, and Wallace v. Jaffree and Lee v. Weisman, which both serve to more properly define the entire issue of school prayer.

    Since the beginning of this entire debacle way back in the 50s, regardless of what case it's been presented with, the Supreme Court has always maintained that ALL students have the right to pray and worship unless these activities are disrupting the classroom. What the Supreme Court expressly prohibits is any action by the state that propends to "establish" a religion in the public sphere. That's why public school teachers can't lead prayers, install or handout religious paraphenalia, etc. They're agents of the state, and any religious activity by these agents is will inevitably favor a particular religion or religions, thereby breaking the Constitution.

    Now, specifically regarding the issue of Muslim students and prayer. Like Christian students, Muslims (surprise!!!) have the right to worship in school. In attempts by school officials to prohibit these students from praying as long as it does not cause a significant disruption to the rest of class would violate the other half of the 1st amendment religious line, which prohibits the government from limiting the free exercise of one's religion. Now, what this all ultimately means is that this school HAS to allow these muslim students to pray or it'd be discriminating against these individuals and depriving them of sacred rights.

    The issue many conservatives seem to take issue with is this educational institutions efforts to accomidate these students, despite the constitutional prerogative. Now, for those not already aware, these claims are hogwash. The dissimilarities between allowing one or two students to leave the classroom for 10 minutes once a day to meet a very important and very specific religious obligation is a far cry from the school wide daily bible readings of yesteryear. Are Muslims allowed prayer? Yes. Are Christians therefore being denied the right to prayer? Only with the institution of the government, which they aren't allowed anyway. Some schools may not allow some students to leave the classroom as readily as some muslim students, but the difference between what for the former is an entirely voluntary prayer which can just as easily be accommedated within the classroom or a free period and the later, for whom this is a required activity, should be self evident. Not to mention the fact that 99% of the students suddenly "inspired" to prayer will almost invariably use the situation to smoke a quick one.

    Ultimately, this is a very unique and interesting situation, and, inevitably the conclusions arrived at by these schools and the courts strikes me as by far the most rational.
     
  7. actsnoblemartin
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    actsnoblemartin I love Andrea & April

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    since when was muslims can pray and christians cant, equal treatment?

     
  8. actsnoblemartin
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    actsnoblemartin I love Andrea & April

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    I agree with retired, the muslim students are not in a predominantly muslim country, that gives no rights to women and non-muslims, unlike there, they have to follow our rules, and assimilitate, i guess not according to liberalis though.

     
  9. actsnoblemartin
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    actsnoblemartin I love Andrea & April

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    Do muslims country give a dam about non-muslims , women or gays in their country?. no their countries are 90-99 percent muslim and treat their women and non-muslims and gays like garbage.

    The u.s. owes muslims NOTHING. If christian citizens dont get special treatment, then american muslims should stfu, or demand, everyone get the same treatment, not just them.
     
  10. actsnoblemartin
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    actsnoblemartin I love Andrea & April

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    Liberals, need to understand, either all get to pray, or no gets to pray, if you dont agree with this, youre an anti-christian hypocrite.
     

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