Teaching Students to “Become Muslims”
ANN ARBOR, MI — On Wednesday, October 19, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, California, will hear oral arguments in Eklund v. Byron Union School District. The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, represents several parents and children who challenged the Byron Union School District’s practice of teaching twelve-year-old students “to become Muslims.”As in the case of an English school which has outlawed reading stories which mention pigs to Muslim children, we see nothing wrong with schools respecting religious sensibilities and teaching children about religion in a sympathetic way.
For three weeks, impressionable twelve-year-old students were, among other things, placed into Islamic city groups, took Islamic names, wore identification tags that displayed their new Islamic name and the Star and Crescent Moon, which is the symbol of Muslims, were handed materials that instructed them to “Remember Allah always so that you may prosper,” completed the Islamic Five Pillars of Faith, including fasting, and memorized and recited the “Bismillah” or “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” which students also wrote on banners that were hung on the classroom walls.
A federal district court judge in San Francisco had previously determined that the school district had not violated the constitution.
According to Richard Thompson, Chief Counsel of the Law Center, “There is a double-standard at play in this case. If the students had done similar activities in a class on Christianity, a constitutional violation would surely have been found.”
But the same policies that apply to Islam should apply to Christianity. And teaching appreciation of and respect for Christianity is especially needed in “blue state” America where hostility and intolerance prospers.
If anybody doubts that hostility and intolerance prospers they should check this animation, which was recently featured on the 1832 Blog, a Democratic student blog at Marquette.