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Should a “Christian” Nation Accommodate Muslim Sensibilities?

Scott on July 12, 2007 at 10:23 am

In the last couple weeks two news stories, both oriented in the field of education, have caught my eye…

1) Carver Elementary School in Oak Park, CA (outside of San Diego) has added an Arabic language component over the last year. This was done to accommodate a group of 100 Muslim Somali students who came over to Carver after their charter school was closed. The difficulty isn’t the Arabic language component at the school. Many non-Muslim students are studying Arabic as an elective (which I think is great). The difficulty comes in the accommodation that has been made by the school which allows these 100 Somali students time during the school day to remove themselves from classes in the afternoon in order to go to a separate room for a time of prayer (as is dictated by their Muslim beliefs). When these students do this, the other students at the school are given equal time to read or write quietly until the Muslim students return.

2) The University of Michigan Dearborn has plans to install two footbaths to accommodate Muslim students who wish to wash their feet before engaging in their daily prayers. While initially the plans called for the baths to be paid for by Muslim students, the Michigan A.C.L.U. argued that there is no reason why the university couldn’t/shouldn’t pay for the baths out of taxpayer monies. As of now, the university plans on paying for the baths.

So here are my questions:

- Are these situations “no big deal” or are they ominous signs of impending social/religious/cultural disaster?

- Is a nation whose foundation is rooted in the Christian tradition obligated to accommodate other religious traditions?

- If we fail to make accommodations for Muslim beliefs, does that mean that we are turning our backs on the idea of religious freedom in this country?

- Should the current/on-going “war on terror” that involves conflict with predominantly Islamic-oriented ideologies influence our societal constructs and expectations?

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Category: Religion & Faith |

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