June 15, 2006
Washington Schools Participate in Establishment of Religion

David Montgomery reports in the Seattle Times about ways that public schools are responding to the prayer needs of Muslim students: Muslim students get help juggling school and faith. Montgomery interviewed me at length last week about the issue, but only included a brief mention of my concerns at the end of the article, so I thought I would elaborate here.

Public schools are government institutions, and as such they must be neutral in matters of religion. When they craft policies, such as determining when children must be in school, how many absences children are allowed, and under what circumstances parents may excuse an absence, those policies must not be tailored to any particular religion. Ideally, they should not mention religion at all - the same rule that allows an excused absence for Good Friday should allow one for visiting the Seattle Art Museum.

The typical response to having a neutral policy on prayer is: "Islam is unique. Practicing Muslims must pray five times a day, sometimes during school hours, and they should make those prayers in a mosque on Fridays." That is true, but it does not trump the First Amendment prevention of an establishment of religion or the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. When a public education and the freedom of religion conflict, public education must give way. School administrators should keep this in mind when formulating education policy, in particular when making accommodations for religion.

An accommodation that seems common in public schools (if Montgomery's article can be used as a guide) is the practice of setting aside an empty classroom for Muslim prayer. This strikes me as an establishment of religion. Other students pray on campus, and some groups use school facilities for prayer when classes are not in session, but this seems to be the only instance where a religion may practice officially during the school day. As such, it puts the followers of Islam in a privileged position, and may reasonably lead students to conclude practicing Islam is ok with the school, but practicing another religion is not. (I hope to be proved wrong. If you have examples of other organized prayer in public schools during the class day, please leave them in the comments.)

This is not to say that the school district should remain ignorant of the religious beliefs of its students. It should have an understanding of the teachings of the major religions and know the obligations each religion places on its adherents. It should do this not to create exceptional policies for believers, but rather so it can be better able to help parents understand the secular nature of the public schools. That way the parents can decide if a secular, government school is right for their children, or if another alternative better fits their religious beliefs.

Posted by Andy MacDonald at June 15, 2006 02:48 PM | Email This
Comments
1. Where is the ACLU? Why aren't they attacking this? If it was Christianity, they would be frothing at the mouth, but this is . . . oh, I guess the ACLU doesn't want its offices burned down. How silly of me. Carry on.

Posted by: HappyGoLucky on June 15, 2006 02:48 PM
2. A headline you WON'T see in the Times: "Christian students get help juggling school and faith."

Posted by: Misty on June 15, 2006 02:51 PM
3. Down here in Pierce, our Auditor and the team assigned to study all-mail-voting found that there would be no significant benefit or cost savings from doing so. So we still have the right to go to the polls.

Sims and the Council have never been willing to debate the arguments for or against all-mail-voting and really understand what makes sense for King County. They simply took Logan's word that it was the right thing to do.

Wait! Correction: Council minus Phillips, because he didn't even think that attending the debate was important. Although it was important to introduce his dog to the public.

Woof, Woof, Woof. Larry, I think he's trying to tell you that he likes to get out and walk, and thus he prefers you voting at the polls.

Posted by: Jeff B. on June 15, 2006 02:52 PM
4. As has been mentioned, there's a really easy litmus test for all this:

Would the school district allow a Bible study class to be held during school hours?

In Seattle, that's a resounding 'no'. Thus, these hypocrites are applying a double standard.

Posted by: Steve_dog on June 15, 2006 03:04 PM
5. Just for the record, as a proud secular American, that article made me feel sick.

Posted by: nospam on June 15, 2006 03:17 PM
6. Considering the recent uproar about having a giving tree in a public school, I am absolutely stunned that the schools are bending over to accomodate the religion of militants. (For all of those out there ready to cry "Foul", it is radical MUSLIMS who are blowing up ships, buildings, and marketplaces on a regular basis. Something the MSM keeps out of the headlines.)

And let's not mention the court battles over having a Bible club after hours on school property. The separation of church and state crowd have been very vocal on that, but once again they are strangely silent when it comes to a group the Loony Left feels sorry for. This has got to stop!!!

This is America. Our schools are not meant to be based on the tenets of a deranged theocracy. If the parents have issues with this, then they need to send their kids to a private school. Other religions have private schools and many are run on shoestring budgets. Or they can homeschool. It is just ridiculous how we are no longer the great melting pot but instead are fast becoming a "how can we kiss your a** and recreate the homeland you left behind" nation. The founding fathers are spinning in their graves. It's time to round up the terrorist sympathizers and pack them all off to the Islamic utopias that habor these low lifes.

If you come to America to seek a new life and are willing to accept our customs and norms, welcome!! But if you come and then whine it isn't like the old country, then go back. And take the moonbats with you (goodbye, Alec Baldwin!!).

Posted by: Burdabee on June 15, 2006 03:20 PM
7. It's kind of a thorny issue. I agree the schools should not be accommodating any particular religion. Under normal circumstances, I would agree with the opinion that they could go to private schools. However, I fear those private schools might just accommodate the particular religion of Wahabiism, and then we're really in trouble.

Posted by: katomar on June 15, 2006 03:23 PM
8. Do you think there would be an outcry if I went into this prayer room eating a ham sandwich? Or is there a sign on the door that says "Muslims only"?

Posted by: Fred on June 15, 2006 03:24 PM
9. Sharia say only school good Muslim attends is a madrassa. We will conquer infidels by using their own institutions!

God is great!

(HE is. I wonder what language is being used in these prayer services, given that Muslim students cover the spread from Arabic to Urdu to Maylasian and Indonesian... Plus some Russian, Serbian, etc... An English translation might make for an interesting read. Ditto a translation of the sermons from local mosques.)

Posted by: Abu Jihad on June 15, 2006 03:31 PM
10. What will they say when the girl muslims aren't allowed in the same room to pray???


Abu - please go home and take your sharia with you.

Posted by: dan on June 15, 2006 03:33 PM
11. I'm not sure Andy's post reflects the correct current state of First Amendment law. While it's true that the First Amendment proscribes "establishment" of religion, it's equally true that the Amendment bars the state from interfering with citizens' right to worship. So some accomodation of Muslim prayer practices may be in order so as not to tip the state action too far against the students' right of conscience.

It's a tough balancing act, and that's why it's an area of law that's litigated so much.

Posted by: DJ on June 15, 2006 03:51 PM
12. I believe the religion says that when Muslims live in a country where the government is non-Muslim, then they must abide by that government's rules - and they are pardoned for breaking tradition because of this. Therefore, these people should have no problem with dealing with school as it is. If they do, then they can privately school or homeschool their children.

One of the reasons I am homeschooling is because I have objections to some school policies. Don't see the school bending over backward to address my concerns! So here I am, and there they should be ... if it is tolerable enough, then put up and shut up, if it isn't then leave ....

Posted by: Peggy U on June 15, 2006 04:13 PM
13. Andy Macdonald says"

Public schools are government institutions, and as such they must be neutral in matters of religion. When they craft policies, such as determining when children must be in school, how many absences children are allowed, and under what circumstances parents may excuse an absence, those policies must not be tailored to any particular religion.

With all respect to Andy MacDonald, this is a lot of horse-hockey!

My children's schools, and every government school in the state avoids school on December 25th, a decidedly Christian holiday. They know, that the the day our children are required to be in school on Christmas Day is the day that public education in this country will be abolished.

Why would anyone yield some an ignorant position that "policies must not be tailored to any particular religion." Is that wishful thinking?

Grow up! Embrace reality!

Posted by: huckleberry on June 15, 2006 04:15 PM
14. First let's question the authoritative voice the Times sought with Doug Honig of the ACLU. Last I checked Honig is not a member of the Washington State Bar Association. He's not listed in Martindale Hubbell as an attorney. Doesn't mean he isn't an attorney but one has to wonder. Even if he is his opinion is just that. The specific matter at hand has not been tested with the courts - yet.

And whilst we're on the matter at hand perhaps it should be tested using McCollum v. Board of Education, School District 71 (1948). This Supreme Court decision has long been a very important tool of atheists in their successful attempts to purge ANY type of religious activity at or dealing with a public school.

Those who use McCollum often claim that those being accommodated create a feeling of exclusion for those who don't participate - "exclusion" even for those who choose not to participate.

Posted by: who cares what the aclu says on June 15, 2006 04:48 PM
15. If accommodating a Muslim's right to pray in school is disruptive to any other student's education, then it should not be permitted. If a student wants to miss class in order to pray, then this should count as an absence. I think state law is 10 absences results in loss of credit. As long as these rules are applied uniformly, the students can do what they want. If their religion dictates they fail in school, well, that was their choice.

Setting the school calendar is an exercise with the union. When the union becomes more than 50% Muslim, then watch for Christmas to be a school day. Then, Christians will miss a day of school, like Jews do currently on their holidays. What is the problem?

Posted by: Janet S on June 15, 2006 05:02 PM
16. My son, who is in high school and is Christian, has a lot of struggle swallowing the theory of evolution taught as evolution. In fact, there have been numerous attempts in many parts of the natioin to allow Creationism to be taught along side of the theory of evolution. I don't see any educational establishment trying to accommodate this, hmmmmmmm?

Now, now. I suddenly have a hope. Maybe, just a big maybe, Muslims will object to the theory of evolution which corrupts their young ones' minds, and since it is from the Muslims, the educational establishment will now listen. How about that?

Posted by: C. Oh on June 15, 2006 05:42 PM
17. So when are the public schools going to start allowing Christian and Jewish groups to provide students with voluntary prayer and religious instruction inside school buildings during school hours, and let them miss classes to attend such meetings?

Posted by: Richard Pope on June 15, 2006 06:11 PM
18. Geez, I hope Abu Jihad didn't kill someone during his post! Don't those folks say "God is great" before they blow themselves up into smithereen's and take other innocent people out?

Posted by: Peaches Marie on June 15, 2006 06:33 PM
19. From the article:

. . . . and while Seattle Public Schools doesn't track religious affiliation among its students, officials believe the number of Muslims is growing.

Hmmmmm. What's to stop an enterprising young student from claiming to be Muslim and getting a half-day off every Friday?

Posted by: RBW on June 15, 2006 07:02 PM
20. Fair is fair. If they want to pray, then they need to do it before or after school- at home. What is good for one group of religious people is good for all. It is amazing how many 'devout' muslims (as well as Mormons, and any other religious group!) will selectively observe the tenets of their faith, and make a big deal over some and gloss over others. Look at how many exchange students from the Middle East behave like savages when in this country to go to school, attendance at bars, strip clubs, etc. Another point, since the people who like to knock down our buildings are of this faith, then perhaps those who are here should be reminded about this, especially since 9/11 there haven't been very many American Muslims who've been on the news damning those actions, but plenty complaining about the people and gov't of the USA. Perhaps some reminding about who butters whose bread should be forthcoming!

Posted by: shaitan on June 15, 2006 07:19 PM
21. Abu Jihad? I'm pretty sure that's a fictitious name...and his post was tongue-in-cheek.

Posted by: Organization Man on June 15, 2006 07:33 PM
22. Abu Jihad? I'm pretty sure that's a fictitious name...and his post was tongue-in-cheek.


Probably true. Let's not let some troll divert the the thread.

Posted by: RBW on June 15, 2006 08:18 PM
23. correct me if I am wrong, but didn't a Seatlle school bar students from using a classroom after school ours for a christian club just a year or two ago? I believe they said it was not a matter of having the extra space available, because it was, it was about seperation of church and state.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on June 15, 2006 09:08 PM
24. I thought this was intresting:

At Garfield High School, an empty classroom is provided for Muslims to pray during lunch periods, Principal Ted Howard said. Students who don't want to miss lunch can have an extra 10 minutes to pray after the lunch period provided their teachers sign off on it. On Fridays, Muslims are allowed to go to a nearby mosque.

So at Garfield high it is ok to allow Muslims to pray (which could be argued violates the constitution), but don't try to come on campus if you are a military recruiter (which has been approved by the federal government).

Posted by: TrueSoldier on June 15, 2006 09:13 PM
25. At least when they're praying they're not being brainwashed with left wing moonbatism.

Posted by: Aaron on June 15, 2006 09:20 PM
26. Aaron: No, they are only being brain washed to cut off our heads or blow up our school buses. Oops, I am not supposed to notice that part. Nevermind, continue on as usual.

Posted by: Elaine on June 15, 2006 09:58 PM
27. I don't like the fact that it appears that the schools are bending to the dictates of one religion. It seems to me that if they want to attend public schools they should be the ones who make concessions, otherwise they can attend private schools or home school. It's not a good precedent to set when one religion is given privileges that others are not. It smacks of favoritism & weakness.

Posted by: Clean House on June 15, 2006 10:13 PM
28. At least the FRENCH don't put up with this kind of nonsense. They make their public school education as EQUAL as possible. They even have a rule against wearing religious headgear in school -- such as the female Islamic headscarf or the Sikh turban. The FRENCH would never allow one religious group special treatment in their schools.

Posted by: Richard Pope on June 15, 2006 11:26 PM
29. Andy,

I am surprised that you are sticking with this stance. Of course public schools must strive to be neutral in matters of religion. However, to imply that an accommodation of praying by Muslim students/staff is taking the policy out of balance, is incredibly ahistorical. The historical set-up of the public school calendar in the U.S. revolves around 1) Christianity and 2) agriculture. In recent years, there has been some movement to a 12-month school year with the acknowledgement that most students do not need the summer off to help with the harvest. If we wanted the public school to be truly neutral with regard to religion, we would have a 7-day school week with rotating time off. Given that it currently favors a Judeo-Christian prayer schedule with Saturdays and Sundays off, an attempt at accommodating other prayer schedules is an effort towards neutrality, not away from it.

I think this problem of an ahistorical stance also shows up when you are arguing for a “colorblind” society. Of course it is a good thing to not have the color of one’s skin matter. However, unless you think everything is perfectly fair now, ignoring skin color at this point just cements the unfairness into place.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 16, 2006 01:21 AM
30. Either you made a typo or you're talking out of both sides of your mouth.
"The typical response to having a neutral policy on prayer is: "Islam is unique. Practicing Muslims must pray five times a day, sometimes during school hours, and they should make those prayers in a mosque on Fridays." That is true, but it does not trump the First Amendment prevention of an establishment of religion or the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. When a public education and the freedom of religion conflict, public education must give way."
The way it's worded you are saying that you AGREE with the school board.

Posted by: ry on June 16, 2006 01:22 AM
31. These comments are very disheartening. Muslims are required to complete MANDATORY prayers during specific hours. Just as in every religion, people follow different levels of adherence. If a Muslim chooses to pray when they are supposed to, it does not indicate they are a fundamentalist or have ulterior motives. If propagation of faith in schools is really the main concern, then we shouldn't have mandated days off for Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, and Hanukah. These are all designated prayer days in the Christian and Jewish faiths that have been imbedded into our society. Because the number of days is significantly less, people are quick to forget that our society affords Christians and most Jews the opportunity to pray when it is required. As the only Muslim student in a predominantly Christian high school, I found myself praying in between period breaks, or during lunch, in hallways or my gym locker room. If anything, I found myself facing ridicule and scorn, not gaining the extra accommodations that everyone is speaking off. If I had been given even an empty closet, it would have made my high school years a lot easier. Considering the amount of money taxpayer's waste on teenage pregnancies or drug and violence prevention, would it really hurt schools to provide a general prayer room for ALL faiths? Private schools and home schooling are not options for people who aren't financially capable. Those who suggest that Muslim students should attend Muslim schools, fail to realize many parents send their children to public schools to experience different cultures and faiths. Muslim Americans are asking for no more or less than those immigrants who came from previous generations. And if people really want to believe that Muslim students are being given special rights in Seattle, they have to consider that Muslim students do not have days off for their holidays, or special foods in the cafeteria for their dietary needs. In response to Shaitan and Richard Pope: 1.) Every since 9/11, almost all American Muslim groups have condoned violence committed in the name of religion; it's the media's right not to air it and the public's decision not to believe it. 2.) In the name of secularism, France has become the society that it was trying to avoid: exclusive and restrictive. Not being able to work or go to school if you cover your head? Yes, that sounds very democratic to me.

Posted by: Samia on June 16, 2006 09:31 AM
32. The ACLU website says: Individual students have the right to pray whenever they want to, as long as they don't disrupt classroom instruction or other educational activities -- or try to force others to pray along with them. If a school official has told you that you can't pray at all during the school day, your right to exercise your religion is being violated. Contact your local ACLU for help.

The question is what to do about a religion -- Islam -- whose practice requires some disruption to educational activities every day (as opposed to, say, just skipping school on some holidays). This is different from any other major religion. I don't know how those conflicting goals should be reconciled, but any arguments that ignore this issue will fail to convince me, or a court, of anything.

Oh, and the ACLU has defended Christians who wish to pray in school. With the country led by people who say their life is based on what Jesus Christ wants, however, it's hard to argue that Christians are a persecuted minority these days.

Posted by: Bruce on June 16, 2006 09:39 AM
33. fair is fair--all other faiths should be allowed to pray or none should be allowed--no special exceptions; this is America; assimilate or form your own school or home-school if the public system does not fit your religious or other needs; we have many successful private Catholic and Jewish schools, and they do not make demands, but make their own accomodations; why does the public at large have to pay for and accomodate ONE faith? this is wrong; Muslims choose these schools and are fully informed of the school day and activities; they know they have religious obligations before hand and still attend, then expect special accomodations; are they just too cheap or stubborn to build their own schools? or home school? tail wagging dog--AGAIN!!!

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 16, 2006 10:04 AM
34. Jimmie-howya-doin,

How do you respond to the idea that the whole school calendar (e.g. no school on Sundays) is a huge accomodation to one faith (Christianity)?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 16, 2006 10:18 AM
35. ChrisB asked someone else:

How do you respond to the idea that the whole school calendar (e.g. no school on Sundays) is a huge accomodation to one faith Christianity)?

This is a Christian nation. Why shouldn't the schools reflect the Christian calendar?

Posted by: huckleberry on June 16, 2006 10:30 AM
36. Samia - you're in the US now, this is how we do things. Don't be surprised if eventually you're not able to do your special-interest thing on the taxpayers' dime. France, Germany, Holland, are all learning their lesson now. Enjoy it while you can or simply move to a country more to your liking.

America has had too many of its' own martyred to give up so easily what we fought and died for. Special diets was not one of those causes.

Posted by: dan on June 16, 2006 10:52 AM
37. Anyone read the article earlier this week in USA Today:

A few things muslims have been asking for in various parts of the country like greater Chicagoland:

Muslim girls basketball team is willing to play non-muslims IF...

No men or boys are allowed to watch.

Posted by: Sandy P on June 16, 2006 12:32 PM
38. "How do you respond to the idea that the whole school calendar (e.g. no school on Sundays) is a huge accomodation to one faith Christianity)?"

Well, as someone pointed out we started out as agrarian and mainly Christian. I believe we still are predominantly Christian, although far fewer people farm these days. The work week is also structured around this schedule and has been for a long time. It's traditional - and we should be allowed to keep OUR COUNTRY'S traditions.

Posted by: Peggy U on June 16, 2006 12:49 PM
39. Why should there be any question about this at all? Saturdays and Sundays off may have come about because of religion in this country, and Christmas may be a holiday because of religion in this country, but SO WHAT?

It is not the case now, that this is because of religion, now it's more of the culture of America, it is recognized that this is how we as Americans do things. Plenty of people take Saturdays and Sundays off, as well as Christmas, yet do not practice any religion. It has been established as the norm.

Change it if you wish, try to make the weekend on Tuesday and Wednesday. Good luck. And try to take away Christmas as a holiday, and you'll have most of the nation looking to tar and feather you, whether they observe Christmas as a religious holiday or not!

Next:

If schools allow prayer times and meetings for one religion, then they MUST accomodate all religions. On taxpayer dime. Who's going to agree to that?

If someone's religion requires them to pray at certain times of the day, disrupting classes and other educational activities of their other students, then they can form their own schools and pray there. If their religion requires such things and doesn't allow them to be taught as easily, perhaps their religion does not wish them to be taught in our schools.

They could go back to the countries controlled by their religion and get their education there, thereby fulfilling their religious requirements.

Posted by: HappyGoLucky on June 16, 2006 12:53 PM
40. Infatuation with natural right in the practical concerns of government must end in anarchy, in a fiery and intolerant individualism.
-- Russell Kirk

Posted by: huckleberry on June 16, 2006 01:03 PM
41. Samia: Can you not pray quietly to yourself?This is what Christians must do. My nieces did that all the way from kindergarten through graduation, and they are devout Christians. Your religion must make allowances for difficult situations, and you are only at school during some of your prayer time. Plus, the amount of time students have off from school is already too generous, in my opinion! What would happen if you were on an airplane trip, standing in line at the bank, or physically incapacitated? Can you pay someone to pray for you? People in the middle ages sometimes payed hermits to do this! Why do you require a special accomodation from the rest of us?

My 8-year-old son made the observation that if everyone's special needs have to be met, it will be chaos, and no work will ever get done! This is supposed to be a place of education, not worship.

One more thing - I know a boy who is accelerated in his academic studies. The school refuses to make accomodations for ACADEMIC needs! He is taking online classes from another school district, he provides his own laptop computer, and the school he is attending requires him to leave the school grounds during his online lessons. At one point they had grudgingly allowed him to use an outlet and a desk in an empty resource room, but they have pulled this "privilege". I'm sorry, but if a school can't accomodate educational diversity, it has no damned business catering to religious interests!!!

Posted by: Peggy U on June 16, 2006 01:13 PM
42. It makes sense to me that our work week is set up to accomodate the majority of the people. Since most people in the U.S. identify as Christian, there is less conflict with a schedule that has Saturday and Sunday as the days off. However, to then complain that other Americans have "special" accomodations when they have to work around the majority schedule is petty. Rather than begrudge the use of an empty classroom on a Friday, be thankful that a Christian church gets to rent the school on a Sunday because the system is set up for Christians.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 16, 2006 02:50 PM
43. Chris - (assuming you are a woman, sorry if not)
are you going to be understanding when they tell you to wear a headscarf and allow your husband to marry 4 women? How about the dictate that their "special worship" will be in a gender segregated manner?

Or are you hoping it won't come to that?

Posted by: dan on June 16, 2006 02:59 PM
44. The ACLU would be nowhere, for they don't see Islam as a threat to their one-world secular progressive agenda, but moreover also prefers Islam over Christianity. Christianity is direct threat to their cultural Marxist beliefs because it attempts to expose the truth and worships a God that is judgmental and is not in their best interests.

The ACLU's cultural-Marxist roots show abundant when it comes to religion. In other areas, they goes through the motions of being civil libertarian for anyone, particularly terrorists and criminals and sometimes common folk- just as long as it doesn't interfere with their one-world secular progressive agenda.

The Seattle Public Schools admin have been brainwashed by the religion of liberalism and a majority are card-carrying members of the ACLU. At the same time, they are in violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution. However, they only look at the constitution when it threatens their agenda. The cold war is not really over - it has left Berlin when the wall went down and morphed into multiculturalism and political correctness over here in the last 15 years.

Posted by: KS on June 16, 2006 03:03 PM
45. ChrisB--i need not explain anything; you can read our country's founding tenents, histories and traditions; I would not expect a Muslim country to change their schools just for ME and my PRIVATE needs; nor a Mexican one nor a German one; I would assimilate and honor THIER customs when in their lands; that's the difference; no one is grabbing these religious families and forcing them to come to America, attend (free) public schools and change their ways; they come here by choice; the operative word is CHOICE; so--where is MY choice as a fair-playing and (forced by law) secular taxpayer when I have to now accomodate every religious nuance? why then is MY religion less "equal?" to honor one religon with special accomodations is to dishonor others;

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 16, 2006 03:04 PM
46. Jimmie-howya-doin,

"to honor one religon with special accomodations is to dishonor others" How are you defining "special"? Seems to me, an accomodation is an accomodation. Public schools give Sundays off for Americans who are Christians. Is this dishonoring of people who want Fridays off?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 16, 2006 03:50 PM
47. Samia

Exactly what does teenage pregnancies or drug and violence prevention have to do with providing Muslims with special praying resources? Are you suggesting that we reduce financial resources for curbing teenage pregnancies, drug use or violence prevention and direct said resources to prayer rooms for Muslims to use to pray to Allah? Or are you suggesting that by praying to Allah teenage pregnancies, drug use and violence will decrease thus reducing the the need for resources?

I understand that in many Muslim countries Christians are severely harmed for practicing their faith by the Muslim government. I also understand that American military personnel protecting the Saudi government must comply with Muslim law or suffer harsh consequences. This is particularly difficult for American female soldiers who drive cars.

So on the one hand many Muslim countries demand strict compliance of their Muslim laws and practices of all people, including invited guests, or suffer harsh penalties, including death and on the other hand you are whining because you were ridiculed in high school.

Samia, let that be the worst that happens to you during your life. And when next you pray to Allah, be thankful to Allah that you are in America where you may whine.

Posted by: Snuffy on June 16, 2006 03:59 PM
48. Dan,

I object to many tenets of many different religious systems. That is one of the many reasons I am very thankful that I am an American citizen. There are lots of things that religious groups think I should do or not do and I don't have to listen to any of them. It is not that I just have "hope it doesn't come to that". I have a strong faith in our American society that we the people won't allow any religion to dictate to civil society.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 16, 2006 04:01 PM
49. Snuffy,

Unless you are advocating a style of government found in many Muslim countries, what relevance does the treatment of Christians in those countries have to do with the way that we treat American citizens in the U.S.?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 16, 2006 04:06 PM
50. Chris, I would respectfully ask you to remove your rose colored glasses and take a hard look at what this multiculturalist attitude finally results in - a tower of Babel. (pardon the biblical reference) Nature abhors a vacuum and so something fills the void. Will it be more multiculturalism or less?

We are first of all Americans, then we are hindus, catholics, jews, queers, whatevers. America is a country with its' own customs and language, built out of many different customs but adhering to one.

The taliban does not distinguish how nice you were
to their kind - you're an infidel and an American.

Posted by: dan on June 16, 2006 04:23 PM
51. Chris B: I think what Snuffy is saying is that Samia should appreciate the freedoms she has and recognize that the minority sometimes has to just "deal with it" in order to get along in society. No one gets everything he or she wants. Sometimes, people don't even get what they need. What Samia desires falls into the category of "want". The point of attending school is to get an education. Her religion is practiced by a minority of students, and to alter an established system to serve their wishes will be disruptive to the majority of students and teachers. Furthermore, it will cause ill-feelings among those who don't feel their voices carry any weight, even though they are also minorities (think Jehovah's Witnesses or Hindus, for example).

Samia has alternatives, including online public schooling - which is "free" (well, not for taxpayers!)to all students, including Muslims, and which can be done from at home - in the evenings or on weekends, if that makes it more economically viable. No one is forcing anyone to attend on-site public schools. Is there an issue of childcare? If this family is too poor to afford to homeschool, then they doubtless qualify for government assistance of some sort to cover childcare. The point is, there are many options available to help people achieve what they want without inconveniencing everyone else in the process!

Our family is taking advantage of online schooling, because we can't afford private school and we want to meet the requirements of the state. Of course, we supplement with our own material, much as Samia could. What fries me is this: Samia is requesting that her religious desires be met. That is not the function of the school. I know a boy who is requesting that his EDUCATIONAL needs be met, and the schools are doing less to address this (which IS their job), than to pander to "needs" it is none of their obligation to meet. And WE ARE PAYING FOR IT !!!!

Posted by: Peggy U on June 16, 2006 04:48 PM
52. Dan: You are right. Even my 8-year-old is smart enough to figure this out!

Posted by: Peggy U on June 16, 2006 04:50 PM
53. Dan,

I think we are agreeing, but maybe not. I agree with the idea that we are Americans first. I also think that America gets enriched with every wave of immigration, and our American culture changes and grows with new input. This is what I see as multiculturalism and I do see it as a good thing.

With or without rose-colored glasses, I don't see that multiculturalism leads to balkanization. It wasn't that long ago that people felt that the Irish immigrants would never assimilate. Despite annual St. Patrick's Day parades and the assorted Irish neighborhoods on the East Coast, the assimilation is mostly complete with a richness added by Irish-Americans. Any argument that the current group (whoever that may be) is too different or times are too different was an argument that was also used back in the 1800's.

Regarding the Taliban, are you saying that they will take over the U.S.? If so, you have a lot less trust in the strength of Americans than I do. It also doesn't matter to me if the Taliban thinks I was nice "to their kind". We have the responsibility as Americans to treat each other with respect. It has nothing to do with if the Taliban is watching us or not.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 16, 2006 05:07 PM
54. PeggyU,

I agree that we should appreciate the freedoms we have. I also agree that sometimes the minority just has to "deal with it" for society's sake. I would extend that sentiment to say that also sometimes those of us in the majority have to just "deal with it" for society's sake. That is one of the beautiful things about the U.S. - an attempt at balancing minority vs. majority desires.

It becomes tricky when the question gets to the practical of what is a "want" vs. a "need" as well as what is a "special" accomodation and what is a "standard" accomodation. I think we all tend, as humans, to not notice the accomodations that happen for us (e.g. no school on Sunday) while noticing accomodations for others (e.g. Muslim students praying in an empty classroom).

Posted by: ChrisB on June 16, 2006 05:21 PM
55. " Evil occurs when good men do nothing". We just need to look at Europe, where Muslims have infiltrated the culture in a number of countries and have the ability to disrupt the culture. That has to do with Dan's concern about the Taliban in America. If we sit by and idly do nothing, while Muslims in schools get special privileges, aren't we opening the door for them to infiltrate and disrupt our culture as has been the case in Europe ?

I am not anti-Muslim, but I am against them receiving preferential treatment is public schools as is happening in Seattle.

Posted by: KS on June 16, 2006 05:26 PM
56. Chris B: The "Christian" schedule followed by the school system springs from the roots of our heritage. I believe our roots are important, and that we need to honor them because they make our country unique. Our national identity is tied up with our heritage, and while we may evolve as a country, we should not lose sight of where we came from. That is what we call our "culture". Each country has one, and this is ours. I have Canadian friends who feel that, because of their country's acceptance of multiculturalism, they do not have a strong sense of national cultural identity. This is not seen as a positive!

I would point out that the Christian schedule observed by our government institutions is a carryover from an earlier time, and that Christian practices/holidays are not continuing to be adopted. If anything, the vines of secularism are encroaching and eroding our longstanding values and traditions. For example, when my oldest children attended public school, they had an actual school Christmas tree that the students could decorate (it was optional to participate, even then). The tree is no more. It has been replaced by a sterile winter celebration. I don't know how many people this satisfied, but the majority of students went along with it in the interest of "sensitivity".

I would also like to point out that my Christian nieces were ridiculed when they said grace over their school lunches. They were teased by kids who never attended church of any sort. Teasing is a fact of life. It isn't pleasant, but you can't completely avoid it. It happens to everyone, at different times, for different reasons. You live through it and get over it!


In spite of Samia's protestations, I have read on more than one Islam informational site that it is proper for Muslims, when not in a society governed by Islam, to obey the regulations of the government at the expense of the performance of rituals, if there is a conflict of interest. I'd say emphatically that this falls under that category! And, as I pointed out FREE online schooling is now available in the convenience of a home setting. Insight School is even providing its students with laptops for school use. I don't see the point in forcing this issue, when alternatives exist that should work for those unhappy with the schedule - for whatever reason, religious issues included!

I believe the desire to perform religious rituals is indeed a want rather than a need. I say this because there are instances in which it is physically impossible to go through ritualistic motions. What, as I mentioned before, does a Muslim do on a long flight? I don't think you are allowed to kneel in the aisle of a plane, and figuring out where Mecca is can be a hell of a challenge! Our neighbor, a good Catholic, recently died after a protracted illness. She didn't go to confession or attend church for months before she died - she was comatose! The point is, most religions, including Islam, recognize that there are practical considerations that can interfere with the ceremonies of religion. The faithful are absolved of culpability in these instances.

Our government is leaning too far toward favoring minority interests. It might make some people temporarily happy, but is unwise in the long haul. Let's bring up the Irish again. As you pointed out, it took time for them to assimilate. HOWEVER, they did not have as much assimilating to do! Language was not as much of an issue, nor was religion, because the ethnic background they came from was similar to that of most 19th-century Americans. I don't believe the government made any special move to accommodate these immigrants, and ultimately they assimilated, rather than the government adapting to please them.

I agree that immigration has made our nation what it is. But most early immigrants were from Europe, and that is our base. Other immigrants have certainly added their flavor to the mix, but up until recent history, those who came here were intent on becoming "American". For example, my grandfather (from Czechoslovakia)refused to teach my mother and uncles his language, because he insisted that they speak like "Americans"! My father in law (from Switzerland) is also adamant on that subject. The adult ESL students I have met recognize the need to assimilate; but there are plenty of immigrants who don't, and that trend is growing. At the same time, when the government "celebrates diversity", it excludes the majority and promotes nonassimilation by immigrant minorities.


Diversity does make life interesting, but celebrating our differences, and not what we have in common, undermines national unity. We can appreciate what different cultures have to offer without demolishing our establishments and traditions to incorporate theirs.

Posted by: Peggy U on June 16, 2006 07:34 PM
57. KS,

I'll ask the same question to you that I have been asking all along on this thread - isn't getting days off scheduled around one's prayer time (e.g. Sunday) more preferential than getting to work around someone else's schedule (e.g. getting to use an empty classroom on Fridays)? I understand why the schedule is the way it is, but it does represent a huge accomodation of Christianity in the public school.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 16, 2006 09:50 PM
58. Peggy,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. While I disagree with some of your conclusions, I appreciate hearing your viewpoint.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 16, 2006 09:52 PM
59. ChrisB - Why then do school children have Saturday's off too ?
ChrisB - Shouldn't Christians also be allowed to pray in a room if they want ? - you know that isn't the case and hasn't been since the early 60's when they banned prayer in public schools. How do you know that Sunday has anything to do with benefitting the Christians so they can go to church ? So what, they are not allowed to pray in school - so why the #$%^ are the Muslims ?

As I suspected that is a phony argument. It appears that you agree with the secular progressive agenda and the ACLU here- how about the chief financier, George Soros ?

Posted by: KS on June 16, 2006 10:20 PM
60. Chris B - Schools could simply excuse children who prove their Islam affiliation to attend their mosque and make allowances for them on Fridays. There are always ways to work around those situations, but to allow them to pray in school while Christians are not is religious discrimination - the first steps to a theocracy.

Posted by: KS on June 16, 2006 10:24 PM
61. KS,

Are you really trying to argue that the Sunday off schedule is not based on the Christian sabbath?

Regarding Saturday, when another day off got added to the traditional work week, I imagine that the Jewish Sabbath influenced a Saturday off instead of a Monday off - still religiously influenced.

Of course Christians are allowed to pray in public school rooms - Antioch Bible Church prays every Sunday in the Lake Washington High School Gymnasium. That prayer service doesn't conflict with the classes because the class schedule is based on the fact that the majority of the students who want to pray, want to pray on Sunday. It certainly is practical to set up the schedule for the majority, but it is still a huge accomodation for Christians.

You may suspect all you want that this is a phony argument. I disagree. I think it is a phony argument to pretend that our weekend of Saturday and Sunday is not based on a Christian tradition. Certainly a few crumbs can be tossed to the Americans of other faiths who have to work around the schedule set up to benefit Americans of Christian faith.

I'll decline to declare my allegiance to any particular agenda or person.

(By the way - Andy MacDonald - are you going to weigh in about these various comments?)


Posted by: ChrisB on June 17, 2006 12:05 AM
62. ChrisB--i don't buy your 'Sat/Sun off' argument; if you want to work & study & pray 7 days a week, go ahead; the 5-6 day week could also have sprung from the industrial revolution and more efficient work, not religion per se; however, to say that the above situation is NOT giving one religion special treatment is ignoring the very obvious; again, i say if it's that much of an issue, self-school or build your own schools with your own rules; not on my time or dime; it's akin to the super-sensitive life threatening peanut allergy kids--if it's that much of an issue, than why toss yourself BY FREE CHOICE into the main public mix and expect everyone to bow to your special needs? my alternative--one big classroom where everyone prays at once at the same time--hearing the din and cackle, we would all see the 'accomodation folly' and stop this silliness; PUBLIC schools are for basic reading, writing & math, not social experiments; you want religion and school? build your own private school;

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 17, 2006 03:25 AM
63. Chris - you seem to be talking out of both sides of your mouth. I think you have declared your allegiance to the multiculturalist agenda and the muslim people who are asking for special treatment. (and special accomodation or treatment
it is)
Question - are you be willing to give them fridays off and and then, you personally, have special school sessions on sundays or through the summer to make up the school time for them?

Correct me if I'm wrong, does Antioch Church rent the gym from the school district or do they use it for free - thereby creating a situation of state (or taxpayer) sponsored religion?

Peggy - ditto what Chris said, very thoughtful response.

Anxious to hear your reply.

Posted by: dan on June 17, 2006 06:00 AM
64. Chris - one more point. You talk of the Irish and of the assimilation of everyone eventually.
How do you explain the terrorist mentality of young 1st and 2nd generation muslims in Toronto and Britain? Could it be that Islam, in the end, is incompatible with western ways and itself refuses to accomodate?

I do believe that it can be proven that we have done more in the last 20 years to make new emigres feel welcome than we ever did for any ethnic groups in our history.

Perhaps you have a different take on that.

Posted by: dan on June 17, 2006 06:37 AM
65. Well said Peggy.

What does Antioch meeting at a school in the Lake Washington school district have to do with children missing classes to accomodate their religion? Nothing. This is the bizarre logic of Left.
A certain group of children get special privileges and it is wrong. Period.

In response to Samia, today's immigrants are treated better than any other immigrants in our history. And let's look at the other countries, a man in Afghanistan was almost killed for practicing his Christian faith. It seems like American Muslims have it a lot better than Christians in Muslim countries. So, I say quit your whinning.

Posted by: M&M on June 17, 2006 09:26 AM
66. Jimmie-howya-doing,

Your not buying the Sat/Sun off argument goes right back to my first observation to Andy - the ahistorical nature of this discussion. Even if you want to argue that it sprung from the Industrial Revolution, the historical setting of the Industrial Revolution had a strong Christian influence. Maybe the weekend sprung from the head of Zeus?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 17, 2006 11:01 AM
67. Dan,

Having an opinion that agrees with another's opinion is different than declaring allegiance to that other person/group. I think it is an important point to make because I see allegiance as a stance where one stops forming their own opinion. I may be well matched in my opinions to some and not well matched to others, but I am still forming my own opinions.

My willingness to tutor people on Sundays or in the summers is not relevant. The Muslim students are not asking for that. They are asking to be able to use an empty classroom and people are begrudging them that use.

I assume that Antioch Church pays rent. The point of my example is that Christians do officially pray inside of public school buildings, so it is not just Muslim students who do. Would you feel more comfortable if the Muslim students rented the empty classroom? I didn't think the money was the issue.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 17, 2006 11:13 AM
68. Dan,

I think that the "terrorist mentality" of some young 1st and 2nd generation Muslims in Canada and Britain is a very complicated issue that is straying too far from this particular question about allowing Muslim students to use an empty classroom in a public school building.

I disagree that Islam is incompatible with "western ways". However, that question is also straying too far off the topic for me.

It would be refreshing to hear the proof of how ethnic groups in the last 20 years have been the most welcomed in our history. Of course, implying that Islam is incompatible with western ways doesn't strike me as the most welcoming stance one could take.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 17, 2006 11:26 AM
69. Andy MacDonald,

Where are you in this?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 17, 2006 11:30 AM
70. ChrisB--we'll never agree, but thanks for the interchange; prayer rooms in public schools tacitly approves (via accomodation and overt actions) of ONE religion (or any religion) over others; America is about assiliation--period; no one is asking people to give up their heritages nor religions; fairness and 'being worldly astute' and all that nice tolerance garbage also requires one to follow the customs and laws of another land to where you VOLUNTIARILY emigrated, not disrupt it & create your own version; when you visit other countries do you demand that everyone speak English to you? do you insist THEY all stand during America's anthem if played in an arena? do THEY expect to change their customs and traditions for YOU the alien visitor or resident? i doubt it; let those devoutly religious students attend their own private schools and do whatever suits them; and if praying makes one miss a test, grade or activity, then too bad; that's a choice they made freely; not our problem in a public system;

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 17, 2006 11:43 AM
71. Hi Chris,

I do want to comment more on this issue and address the specifics you raise. Today is too busy, but tomorrow I should have some time to write.

Posted by: Andy MacDonald on June 17, 2006 02:06 PM
72. Russia has treaties with Moslem countries. American liberals love Moslems. hmmmm.
Chris... you best read up a bit on Islam. Yes, they are trying to take over the world. Yes, they are trying to impose sharia law in the west.... Canada, England, Norway...
May I assure you, you would not like to live under sharia law. If you lived.

Posted by: Jean on June 17, 2006 02:26 PM
73. Jimmie-howya-doin,

Thank you as well for the interchange.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 17, 2006 04:21 PM
74. Jean,

I am always interested in hearing different perspectives. Do you have some books that you have read that you would be willing to recommend?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 17, 2006 04:24 PM
75. This is clearly discrimination in favor of Muslims and shameless pandering to the Muslim community. Many Mormon students get daily religious instruction, but they must do it either before or after school. Why can't Muslims accomodate?

If Muslim parents want a formal Muslim-style education for their kids, they should get together and establish a Muslim private school like Christians do.

Posted by: Anchorage Activist on June 17, 2006 10:21 PM
76. Anchorage Activist,

How do you respond to the idea that having no school on Sunday is clearly discrimination in favor of Christian students?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 17, 2006 11:15 PM
77. It's interesting that some have said I should just be thankful to be in this country, and that assimilation should be more my concern. Considering I was born in this country, and my family came here as legal immigrants over fifty years ago, I’d be hard-pressed to find a family more assimilated then ours. That said, I think there needs to be a clear distinction between assimilation and changing one’s beliefs. We dress, talk, pay taxes, just as others do, but we don’t take adjustment of our faith lightly. Islam says you must pray during specific times. Obviously there is leniency when it comes to someone who is sick or traveling, but if one can make accommodations for themselves, they should. After all, praying five times a day is the most important tenet in Islam, and we just can’t get away with praying in the morning or evening, as someone suggested. Yes, this often isn’t practical, especially if it’s in a school environment or in a highly sensitive job. Still it’s sad that when I prayed in high school in between periods, I wasn’t given permission, although our school had a Bible study class after school, led by our principal. I was also never given the chance to make up tests, when I asked for a day off for my holiday, sit in the library during my lunch when I was fasting, or educate my peers about my religion. When I had asked to do an educational presentation, my intention had simply been to dispel some stereotypes, as our school did not teach Islam in the curriculum, even though there were sections for other religions. As this was pre-9/11, I shudder to think what most of those students feel about Muslims now. I suppose it’s what most of you feel; that the grievances of Muslim Americans shouldn’t be given any consideration as we were responsible for the attacks and since we are all apparently in support of them. Digressing, I’m trying to show that it is honestly very naïve to think that Christian or even Jewish students have the same needs as Muslim students when it comes to the specifics of prayer. And to make it clear, I’m not degrading another faith, or putting mine above other. Also, I’ve never heard of an online high school, but that would impractical for younger students, who would need supervision. For that to happen, one parent or guardian would have to stay home, which may not be economically feasible. Money also plays a hand in sending children to Muslim schools, which aren’t outside of major cities. Coming back to the matter of assimilation, most Muslim parents would rather send their children to public schools, as they can assimilate. I know this is why my parents did. At the end of the day, we all still work and pay taxes, so we have the right to “whine” about our religious needs. Parents of other faiths can complain that their children aren’t given the chance to pray in school, but I bet 100% if the Bible or Torah said that you had to pray during allotted times, schools would give them the chance. After all, this is why schools and most government jobs give Good Friday off. We’re not asking for large concessions, just the chance to not look like the devil when kids want to pray in a quiet place during their lunch periods. If this doesn't happen, kids will still go on praying in between periods, missing holidays, or losing credit for classes, as they always have.

Posted by: Samia on June 18, 2006 12:37 AM
78. Samia: I would like to address a couple of your comments:

"I’ve never heard of an online high school, but that would impractical for younger students, who would need supervision. For that to happen, one parent or guardian would have to stay home, which may not be economically feasible."

I believe that where there is a will, there is a way, and it is all a matter of priorities. If religious adherence is your top priority, then you will make it happen by looking into different possibilities including:

Finding a work schedule, or even a different job, that will allow you to be home during the day, if young children require supervision. Does that sound draconian? Many of us do it! (I've given up a larger potential income and benefits and work from home). Again, it has to do with figuring out what is most important in your life! That may mean living a very modest lifestyle. Money an issue? If you are indeed that poor, there are government organizations that will help with child care. In this respect, as a minority, you have the advantage! If you have not heard of online classes or other public services, then it is your responsiblity to seek them out and educate yourself. How is it the rest of us are aware of these options? This information is available to all. Obviously, you have a computer, or at least have access to one. So, either you have enough financial wherewithal to afford a machine and internet connection, or you have tapped into government services. This holds true for anyone, including the homeless people who hang out at the public library! If you want information, you can get it!


"Obviously there is leniency when it comes to someone who is sick or traveling, but if one can make accommodations for themselves, they should."

If one can make accommodations for themselves, they should? Not if others can make accommodations for us? Here the operative word is IF. I think you fail to realize that popping in and out of class may be disruptive to the progress of the class as a whole. Also, schools have to deal with issues of cheating, especially during test periods, and allowing people to leave the room at will is obviously going to be a problem! I have no issue with empty classrooms being used for extracurricular activities during off times - if the curricular needs are met first. Here I really have to bitch, because I know of a student who was denied the use of an empty classroom for EDUCATIONAL purposes. So, to me, it is outrageous that they should allow one for prayer when they won't grant it to meet the purpose they are actually supposed to fulfill!!!

"I bet 100% if the Bible or Torah said that you had to pray during allotted times, schools would give them the chance. After all, this is why schools and most government jobs give Good Friday off."

A big fat NO on this one!!! Get real! Also, I have yet to work a job (and my husband has never worked in one, either) where Good Friday was observed - I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it's certainly not universal. In fact, I don't remember getting Good Friday off when I was a kid growing up in the midwest - and there are a lot of Catholics there.

I've got other ideas, here, but I've got to go ... I'll be back ....

Posted by: Peggy U on June 18, 2006 10:31 AM
79. The comaprison of making special accomodations for a religious minority in public schools to having Sundays off is rather rediculous. We have Saturdays and Sundays off because of a very long history of the weekend as we know it. And yes, that was origianally based on the "Christian" calender, but to infer that schools are "accomodating" Christian sudents shows you have no real grasp of the issue but are looking for a way to excuse the liberal agenda. Saturday and Sunday weekends are now ingrained in all of American and European (and probably many other) contries, and is there to stay regardless of religion any more.

Now, if Christians were complaining that they wanted an opportunity to pray in school or to hold any form of religius activity during school hours on school grounds, the LLL and the ACLU would be all over it on separation grounds.

Until you can make a point that compares that granny smith to the jonagold of the muslim prayer issue without bringing up the navel orange of our traditional weekend, THEN you HAVE no leg to stand on. Because I am certain that if Christiany all of a sudden decided that worship was to be on Wednesday and tried to get the schools to accomodate, the hue and cry of the LLL would be heard from Portland Maine to Portland Oregon, without the aid of electronic amplification.

No one is buying it except the agenda driven, anti-christian LLL.

Eyago

Posted by: Eyago on June 18, 2006 11:34 AM
80. Chris, Yes, there's a lot of reading out there. Since we're on the web, it may be easier to just start there.... there will be lots of references available. Just start with www.jihadwatch.org it will give you a lot of info. and links to other web sites.
Or you could go to the encyclopedia and start the research on what actually happened in Islamic history. A study of the crusades is enlightening. It makes one love western civilization.
None of us here in America were ever taught the long history of Islamic wars with everybody. The information has been hard for me to assimilate. But we must. We may want to love our enemy... but we can't sing kum-by-yah forever. They think they are at war... with us.

Posted by: Jean on June 18, 2006 01:17 PM
81. Jean,

What are specific books that you have read that you want to recommend?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 18, 2006 01:57 PM
82. Eyago,

I am pleased that you agree with me regarding the history of Saturdays and Sundays off as well as the opinion that the weekend is here to stay. I think an issue of disagreement is the time limit you seem to apply to accommodation. It doesn’t matter how ancient a custom or calendar is, the U.S. constitution does not favor one religion over another. On a practical matter, in society we are always trying to balance exactly what this means. It makes sense to set up the system to accommodate the most people and then do some other stuff to accommodate the rest. All of it is accommodation.

An analogy to the time-frame issue is an engineering building in a public university that only has men’s restrooms. There is historical reason for only having men’s restrooms, but that long tradition doesn’t matter. How women’s restrooms should be added (what space is taken for this new use) can be controversial, but no one denies that it is not fair to provide restrooms for men and not for women.

The choices for a public school calendar in the spirit of the US constitution would be to:
A) Favor no religion
e.g. random days off or days off not associated with any religion (I don’t know if there is any day that is not sacred to some religion)

B)Take turns favoring one religion then another
e.g. one year we get Saturdays and Sundays off, the next year we get Fridays and Saturdays off.

C)Favor the religion that the majority follow and then allow flexibility for the others
e.g. Sundays off and let Muslim students pray in an empty classroom on Fridays.


Option C seems the one that would work the best. The options should not include favoring the majority religion and then not allowing minority religions to work-around the favored status of the majority, no matter how long the favored status has been around.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 18, 2006 02:02 PM
83. Chris
The Last of the Giants
George Otis, Jr

Europe in the Middle Ages
Thatcher and Schwill

The Church of our Fathers
R.H.Bainton

The Little Flowers of St.Francis

Lots of stories of Catholic Saints.
Robert Lull is one of my favorites.

Operation World : a day by day guide to praying for the world Patrick Johnstone

Inside the Third Reich
Albert Speer

Jerusalem Countdown
John Hagee

Islam Unveiled
Robert Spencer
Pirate Coast
Richard Zacks

Posted by: Jean on June 18, 2006 02:43 PM
84. Chris B. : I don't think anyone is having an issue with the use of empty classrooms during off times, as long as equal access is granted to everyone. What I do see as a problem is the idea of people popping in and out during class. I think it is disruptive to the progress of the class. Also, there is the issue of : well, they let us do this, now what else can we get them to cave on? France at one time made adjustments to accommodate Muslim students, but then retracted them because it wasn't working well. This generated more ill will than if they hadn't gone there in the first place! I'm not overly fond of France, but I do commend them for recognizing and fixing something that was deleterious to their educational system.

Here is something I would submit to you : How is it intolerable to not accommodate school prayer, yet it is ok for Muslims to break other religious rituals? For example, Muslim women are supposed to wear veils. This would mean never setting foot in a bank or a store, and no driver's license or ID card! A passport? Forget it! Samia's hypothetical Muslim mother, who works outside of the home, will be severely restricted in her options for employment. I think school prayer may actually be a lesser issue, here, than the really BAD fit between the practice of Islam and life in a modern world. How do you answer these concerns? Does Islam need to change, to allow its women more freedom, or do we need to cave on what are obviously security issues? Also, it would seem that many western Muslims choose to forego veils, rather than limit themselves. This is a free choice. Which rules are ok to break? It seems kind of picky choosey to me. Honestly, I'd like to know how you'd address this.

Then there's the whole issue of lending and money ... these people can't in good faith carry a balance on any credit card or take out a mortgage. I believe it is considered usurious. Our society has some real compatibility problems with this particular religion!

Posted by: Peggy U on June 18, 2006 02:59 PM
85. Chris
Oh ! I forgot! Yes, indeed you should read the Koran. As much as you can stomach. I have sort of specialized in the chapter on Women. And the one on Jinns.(genies) Real cute. Worthy of lots of comments.

Posted by: Jean on June 18, 2006 03:03 PM
86. Chris B: Add "They Just Don't Get It" by Col. David Hunt to your list, please. I learned some unpleasant information about people I have always held in esteem (as well as those I never did!), and developed some small appreciation for what we are facing. It isn't a comforting or pleasant read, but I don't think it's meant to be. It is interesting and compelling. I believe, given the author's background, that he probably knows what he is talking about, although I have tried to find logical holes and anticipate what other information might not be presented. The facts obviously come from a guy who knows terrorists; he is not a diplomat, and I don't know if he is privy to all of the information a commander-in-chief must weigh in making decisions. However, I don't believe the author wrote the book to make a buck. I do think he did it as a public service, patriotic duty and wakeup call to as many people as he can reach. He has a family himself, and I think that is the motivating force behind this book.

This book is written quite recently (shortly before Zarqawi was killed, I believe). If you find it enlightening, please pass it on!

Posted by: Peggy U on June 18, 2006 03:25 PM
87. Peggy,

People on this thread ARE complaining about the use of an empty classroom for Muslim students to use.

I don't believe that students "popping in and out" are really a disturbance to the teaching process, but maybe that is just my experience. I would hope that our students would not be so thrown off by something minor like that.

Since I am not Muslim, I cannot speak as to the relative importance of various things. I know that among Christians, there is a huge range of what is acceptable behavior. I am under the impression that there is quite a range among Muslims as well regarding what is required by Islam and what is considered to be cultural. I would take Samia at her word when she said, "After all, praying five times a day is the most important tenet in Islam, and we just can’t get away with praying in the morning or evening, as someone suggested".

The idea that we can't give into something because then they'll want more is not something I am a big believer in. Boundaries are often hard to maintain, but they are still are responsibility to maintain. To put a false boundary up so we don't have to deal with the real boundary later is not an admirable position.

Regarding usary, Catholics used to be against it and now aren't. Times change and religions (or really, various groups within religions) decide what they change and what they don't. I would love to change many rules within in many religions, but it is not my business.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 18, 2006 04:18 PM
88. Jean,

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll look into them. Out of curiosity, what does The Little Flowers of St.Francis and Lots of stories of Catholic Saints have to do with this discussion?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 18, 2006 04:20 PM
89. Chris B: I think, also, that people would be more open to the idea if our schools, etc., weren't so stinking PC about everything. And, I respectfully disagree with you on the boundaries issue. One thing I have noticed about schools in particular, is that if there is effort involved in maintaining the enforcement of a boundary, it doesn't get maintained! Take the "Zero Tolerance on Bullying" issue ... as if!

Letting people leave the classroom at will is not disruptive? What about the WASL, as a small example? When they hold it at our schools, they won't allow people to leave. Not only that, they won't allow freshmen, juniors and seniors to be on campus during testing, for fear of cheating and distraction.

I am having a real hard time with this whole discussion, and here is why: I have not seen these simple kinds of adjustments made for quite legitimate EDUCATIONAL purposes. Here are two examples. The first is the one that I have harped on before, and which no one wishes to address. Why should an accelerated student be denied the use of a corner desk in an empty classroom to take an online class, when the classes offered are so far below him as to be unuseable, and when the school itself has denied the boy enrollment in easily accessed on-site high school classes? Why should this boy actually have to leave the school premises in order to hook up his laptop, when the resources are available and ready? There may be a lawsuit coming this school's direction over their management of this situation! In general, I don't approve of lawsuits, but this one seems founded, especially as this boy's IEP has been sadly neglected! He has also been the frequent target of bullies, because they don't like the fact that he's a "smart guy". I know this boy. He's different, but he's a nice kid. When he retaliated against the incessant bullying, using words instead of fists (albeit they were CHOICE words), he found himself threatened with expulsion!

If children leaving the classroom is not disruptive, then answer me this: why is allowing a child to go off in a corner and quietly read (because he is accelerated beyond the language lessons)a disruption? It apparently is too much of a disruption for our grade school to handle. They didn't want it to appear that the student was receiving "special privileges".

Education is a legitimate function of the school - hell, it's supposedly its prime directive! If students who are different can't receive accommodations (such as the one Samia is requesting) for educational purposes, why should religious requests be handled preferentially?

Posted by: Peggy U on June 18, 2006 06:19 PM
90. Chris B.

I think you are continuing to create a false argument. The issue is not that current school schedules exist to accommodate Christain students. It happens that current school schedules exist to accommodate western week norms and would not change if Christian worship suddenly needed a different day. Culturally Saturday and Sunday are our weekends. That is the reality.

The real question, and the only one we should be debating is whether the schools and the ACLU are hypiocritical ragarding this accommodation for Muslim religion in the public schools when they make such loud protests about any Christian effort to practice their religion in school. The best thing you can say is that IF schools find it necessary to accommodate Muslims due to their religious needs, they then should give up trying to restrict Christians from doing the same.

I really have no issue with the needs of Muslims. I think TRUE NUTRALITY means the schools stop trying to restrict people from practicing their religion in public places rather than trying to stop all practice in public places. But if they want to stop all practice, then they need to be consistent. Which is it going to be? ALL or NOTHING?

Again, the weekend issue is a distraction and irrelevant to the central question stated above.

-Eyago

Posted by: Eyago on June 18, 2006 06:29 PM
91. www.gatesofvienna.blogspot.com will answer all your questions. This is a new phase of a very long war. We in America have not been taught European history. It is now upon us. We protestants are proud of our correct doctrine... but we do not know our past. We need to know the stories of those who have died for our faith. Until you have read the story of the fall of Constantinople, you do not have a right to speak concerning Islam vs the West.
Are we prepared to teach our public school students this part of history while we "excuse" muslim students from class to go pray? Or do we continue in ignorance?

Posted by: jean on June 18, 2006 07:45 PM
92. Peggy,

It looks like we are just going to stay in disagreement about class disruptions and where boundaries are set.

I do agree with you regarding accomodating children who are educationally outside of the class norm. I also think that this is a separate issue. Fight the wrongness of that situation, but don't use it as an excuse to justify another situation. I never did feel that eating my peas was going to help a starving child in India.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 18, 2006 11:12 PM
93. Eyago,

What are you talking about when you say, "when they make such loud protests about any Christian effort to practice their religion in school"? This post is about allowing Muslim students a chance to go to an empty classroom and say prayers. The weekend argument is relevant because the school, by virtue of the schedule, is allowing Christian students to easily attend their prayer services.

Christian students are allowed to hold bible study classes in public schools. Christian churches can hold services on Sundays in public schools. What more are you wanting Christian students to be able to do?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 18, 2006 11:21 PM
94. Jean,

"We protestants are proud of our correct doctrine..."? Wow.

No. I'm proud of being American. I think it is incredibly anti-American to try to censor any religion, including Islam. As long as a Muslim is a law-abiding citizen, they are welcome here. Clearly it is possible to be both law-abiding and Muslim, since many, many Americans are.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 18, 2006 11:30 PM
95. Chris B: I don't feel as though it is a separate issue. Here is my point (It has been repeatedly missed, so I am obviously not being clear enough on this!): the school should stick to educating, not social engineering. If the schools don't have enough resources to fulfill the purpose they were put here for, as seems to be the case (we're always being told they are too short-staffed and under funded to meet educational needs), then they shouldn't be taking on obligations they are not required to meet.

One school district understands our frustration - and the fact that for many students "physical" schools have become unworkable. Samia, pay attention, because THIS is the answer to your dilemma: take online classes. Quillayute's Insight School (www.go2ischool.net, I think) will work for you if you are willing to make some adjustments (it can be done). If they are full up, Federal Way's Internet Academy (www.iacademy.org) is another way to go. Furthermore, Quillayute is going the extra yard to arrange outings and get togethers for its students, to combat the feeling of isolation that can go with distance learning. Muslims aren't alone in having problems with the public school system. There are many issues, including religious ones, which the present system is frankly incapable of addressing adequately.

I do understand, Samia, that you are likely as assimilated as a Muslim person can be in this society. Honestly, your religion is a restrictive one, and it presents some real problems. I think that by trying to adapt, you may have actually crossed a line into what the fundamentalists we are fighting against would consider betrayal of your religion. That must be difficult, but perhaps it is time for a Muslim reformation movement to counter what seems to be a refusal to change and grow with the times.

Posted by: Peggy U on June 19, 2006 12:24 AM
96. Chris B.

I may be misinformed, but aren't the Bible Studies and Church services held after school hours? What you are advocating is to integrate Muslim religious practice DURING school hours. As I have said, it is fine with me as long as the same privileges exist for other major religions. Additionally, it is my understanding that efforts have been made (whether always succesful or not, I am not sure) to try and prevent religios groups from having bible studies and such things after school. In our current environment, it would not surprise me that in 5-10 years anti-religious groups will attempt to ban the use of school facilities for Sunday services in the name of "separation". That has been the trend.

-Eyago

Posted by: Eyago on June 19, 2006 06:38 AM
97. again, I say--forget the special (and discriminatory) prayer accomodations in public schools; build your own private religious schools if public ones are so 'inconvenient' and 'intolerant;' this is a school, not a place of worship; problem is, the special prayer treatment people want YOU to pay for THEIR special tastes; nope--that's not right nor fair to the public at large; assimlilate or create your own school;

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 19, 2006 09:59 AM
98. Eyago,

The bible studies and church services being held outside of school hours is exactly why my argument about weekend is relevant. They are outside of school hours BECAUSE the school hours are set up to make the bible studies and church services outside of school hours. Saturday and Sunday for the weekend was not set up in a vacuum, it was set up to make it convenient for Christians to observe their religion. That is why objecting to Muslim students slipping out of class and using an empty classroom seems petty to me. Christians already got a whole day and now feel discriminated against because Muslims are trying to work around their schedule?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 19, 2006 10:11 AM
99. Chris B: What do you teach, by the way? I am still waiting for an explanation of why a school would figure that a kid sitting quietly off in a corner by himself and educating himself is distracting (and therefore forbidden), but people going in and out of the classroom is not. Our grade school and middle school frown on bathroom breaks, because they are distracting.

Incidentally, if you adopt this policy, brace yourself for a wave of Muslim "converts".

Posted by: Peggy U on June 19, 2006 10:39 AM
100. Incidentally, Chris B., I have been conversing with a Turkish Muslim who feels the religion is in need of a modernizing overhaul in regard to its outlook and practices. Change doesn't necessarily need to come from our institutions. And teachers don't need to be the instrument of social change, they need to teach. Let the Muslims work this out within their circles.

Posted by: Peggy U on June 19, 2006 10:48 AM
101. Chris B.

You still miss the point in all this. Yes, Chirstians don't "need" to hold Church services during school hours. What you fail to address is the hypocritical approach you are advocating.

Straight up Chris: Is it a violation of "separation" for Chirstians to practice their faith on school grounds during school hours?

"Separation" is NOT a conditional policy. It is either true or not true. What you are saying is that we don't need to accommodate Chirstians because they don't "need" it but Muslims do, so we have to make an exception for them. However, that is NOT the argument that has been used to fight the battle of "separation". So, either the issue is "separation", or it conditional based on the religious needs of the individual in question.

Again, I am not saying no to Muslim prayer, I am saying that religious rights are for everyone. You let Muslims pray in school, you cannot bar Christians form the same thing. You can't simply excuse your discrimination on the basis that Christians have Sundays so they can be barred at the other times. What you are saying then is that the Government has the right to say who can worship when and use arbitrary rules to make those determinations.

Think very carefuly before you aswer this because there are a lot of current practices by liberals in schools that will be affected by some of the positions you might take.

-Eyago

Posted by: Eyago on June 19, 2006 10:53 AM
102. Chris B: Eyago is right. You might want to study Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, all world religions and their variants, before you take this step. Reform for one means reform for all, and there may be many practices and holidays you are unaware of. Big can of worms here!

Posted by: Peggy U on June 19, 2006 11:11 AM
103. Peggy,

I teach physics and math at a community college. I have lots of issues with the way public education is structured from k-16, but I'm not particularly interested in going into an in-depth conversation about it in blog form. I agree with you that the advanced student you know, should be able to go and study by himself. In my own experience as a student and as a teacher and as an observer in k-12 classrooms, I just don't think it is that big of a deal to let a student get up and quietly leave/enter the room. But, then I tend to have a noisy, active room anyway.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 19, 2006 11:44 PM
104. Peggy,

I am sure there are lots of reform movements within Islam - it is no more a monolithic religion than is Christianity. This post is about allowing Muslim students to go use an empty classroom, not about teachers leading an Islamic reform.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 19, 2006 11:47 PM
105. Eyago,

I am not "missing the point in all of this". We have a difference in the scale of our viewpoint. I am looking at a larger picture that includes acknowledging the benefit that Christian students have by having their sacred day off from school. You are choosing to focus more narrowly on what happens within the government mandated schedule. It is not about a missing point.

Regarding my belief about separation of church and state - I personally would prefer no religion in any public building. This means no Muslim students using an empty classroom, no bible study classes before school, no renting the school gym to a church group on Sundays. On the other hand, it does strike me as a waste of resources to not allow the use of a building if no one else needs it at the time (as long as they pay for any costs that wouldn't have occured if they weren't using the building). So, the status quo of allowing groups to use the space is ok for me, even if I would prefer otherwise.

The vital thing about separation of church and state, for me, is making sure that someone who doesn't want to participate doesn't have to be exposed to it and to make sure that a public official (e.g. teacher, principal) isn't leading it. So, have a bible study class in an empty classroom, but don't have it in the lobby of the building. I'd have a huge problem with Muslim prayers being said over the loudspeaker at a public school.

Futhermore, I am not against Christian students slipping out of class for prayers. There are certainly Christian practices where one prays on designated hours and that could interfere with school. What I have been saying is that I think it is petty to complain about Muslim students slipping into an empty classroom when Christian students have a huge advantage. Instead of screaming discrimination, be thankful that most Christians aren't put in the position of choosing between getting to worship they way they want to and getting to stay in class.

The practical side of all of this is how disruptive is all of this leaving class. It becomes a balance thing. If most everybody is going to leave, it might be better to schedule a day off (hence: Sundays off). If it is just a few people, then it won't be that big of a disruption. In New York state, they arrange the school schedule to have the Jewish High Holidays off as well as the major Christian holidays since they have a large number of Jewish students as well as Christian students. If a particular public school had a population of 50% Christian and 50% Muslim, it might make sense to have a four day week and extend the school year. I have the practical dilemma in Fall quarter about what to do with my evening class the night before Thanksgiving. I have to decide if I give a test, to make sure everyone shows up or if I make it a "throw-away" class since so many students will start their holiday early.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 20, 2006 12:33 AM
106. Chris B.

I appreciate your point of view. I agree that Christians have an advantage due to the fact that this country was founded on Christian principles by Christians and that the culture reflects that heritage. The thing about culture is that it is much more divisive and disruptive to try and force the majority to change to adjust to many different minorities than to have the culture itself adjust and absorb the mixing of the cultures as they integrate. Unfortunatley, the LLL thinks the majority culture in this country is evil and must be forcibly altered and that minority culture must be cultivated in its place. Hence, we have schools restricting Christians and encouraging Muslims. That is what I object to. I only ask for consistency one way or another. Either religion is allowed to occur during school hours, or religion is allowed only during off hours or no religion is allowed at all, but to say that one religion is preferred over another such as in this case, is wrong.

Now, I disagree with you that religious institutions aught to be restricted from using public school (and I guess by extension, all public) facilites. Public facilites are in fact PUBLIC. That means we, the people, own them. They are not property of the "government" such that only the "owners" can use it (military and other sensitive functions not withstanding.) We are the government, and our elected officials and employees are simply hired by us to perform fuctions on our behalf. If one group can use a public facility than any leagal group can use that facility. It is asinine to say that the use of a public place by a religious group is the same as government "promoting" religion. So far, religion is not illegal in this country, so they have as much right to access public facilities as any other legal group. To deny them is to practice discrimination and in effect indicate religion is LESS legal than other organizations and entities. You confuse "religion neutral" with "anti-religion".

Posted by: Eyago on June 20, 2006 05:16 AM
107. Eyago,

Your statement "the LLL thinks the majority culture in this country is evil and must be forcibly altered and that minority culture must be cultivated in its place" is exactly why I have been staying on this thread for so long. (I'm not quite sure what the LLL stands for, but I'll guess is has something to do with a "liberal" stance and is pejorative and my viewpoint probably gets me lumped into this category).

People do not feel that the majority is "evil". We feel that the majority has advantages that may or may not be noticed by those in the majority and it with a sense of fairness that we advocate for minority rights. I like this particular topic because it is less charged than many topics and also is more obvious to point out the advantage that the majority holds. I do not think Christianity is evil and we need to replace it with Islam. I think that Christianity is at a huge advantage in our religion-neutral country and it is only fair to toss a few crumbs to other religions.

This extends to much more hot-button topics, namely race and gender. Liberals do not think men are evil or White people are evil. Rather, the idea is that in our race-neutral and gender-neutral country, men and White people have a huge advantage that may not be easily noticed by people in those groupings. In a strive for true neutrality, some of that advantage has to be leveled out, ideally in the least painful way to everybody. So, in the case of the Muslim students, I think that you don't take away Sunday from Christians, but rather you let the Muslim students slip away to an empty classroom. I don't mind if Christian students also need to slip away to pray, but from my point of view, that is not helping the situation of trying to balance advantages in a quest for real neutrality.

Clearly, many will disagree with this goal of a redistribution of advantages, but at least know that when men or White people are being asked to change, it is not because people hate them or think that they are evil.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 20, 2006 10:38 AM
108. Chris,
We understand that your goal is complete redistribution. Advantage, money, religion, in your quest for a total neutrality type of utopia. This is exactly what most posters here object to. We call it communism and it is a failed philosophy.
I think to be a true progressive in todays' world is to look at the reality of a situation and form an opinion based on that rather than how we feel the outcome should be. In other words, you're dreamin!
How many times do the hijackers of the religion of peace have to tell you that they want the world to live under islamic law before you believe them? I understand not all muslims think the same, it's time then for their own moderates to stand up against their brethren that are terrorizing the world. If they don't, who will - you?
This incident of prayer in school is only a very small skirmish in the beginning of this very long war. Like it or not.

Posted by: dan on June 20, 2006 11:12 AM
109. Chris B: The fact that you teach at a community college explains a lot! There's quite a bit of difference between the environment you teach in and the high schools, middle schools and elementary schools my kids have attended. Generally, the teachers and administrators I have had experience with have been quite put out at people leaving class. I had to pull my youngest son out of school because they would not allow him to bring books from home and read to himself while the rest of the class was learning the alphabet (had there been other aspects of school that outweighed this negative, I might have let him suffer through that; there were no real compensating factors, however). I talked to the teacher and the principal about this; both felt it would show favoritism, and would be disruptive (they also refused testing and advanced placement). I didn't really want to have to pull him and do the home schooling thing, but what choice did I have? I don't have money falling out of my ears, either, so private school isn't an option.

As to your teaching environment, there is the fact that the students pay up front to take the classes. Students can take their money to whatever institution gives them the best fit. The best way to fix the situation for all would be to go with a voucher system, so people would have that freedom at lower grade levels as well. This is probably the most equitable arrangement of all, yet it is one that is unlikely to be adopted because of union opposition.

Posted by: Peggy U on June 20, 2006 12:08 PM
110. ---make that SELFISH union opposition.

Posted by: Peggy U on June 20, 2006 12:11 PM
111. Chris B: I just noticed another of your comments.

This post is about allowing Muslim students to go use an empty classroom, not about teachers leading an Islamic reform.

I was not suggesting you actively attempt to reform Islam (good grief, how silly!). I was suggesting you let them work out their issues themselves, without tampering.

Posted by: Peggy U on June 20, 2006 12:15 PM
112. Chris B: One last post for now. My thinking is kind of fragmented today! One other difference between your setting and that of the primary schools is the ages of the people involved. By the time students reach college, they are, presumably, adult, and better able to handle distractions (or at least, not act out if they are distracted!). They are also not as inclined to screw off because they are paying for the class. A room full of middle school students would be looking to work this arrangement to their advantage (and that would undermine order).

Posted by: Peggy U on June 20, 2006 12:25 PM
113. Chris B: Ok, I am breaking that promise! The one thing my daughter commented on when she started college was that the classes were so much quieter and more civilized than in high school (and she was in mostly AP classes). She felt like they covered more ground because there were fewer disruptions. Just an observation.

Posted by: Peggy U on June 20, 2006 12:30 PM
114. Chris B.

People do not feel that the majority is "evil". We feel that the majority has advantages that may or may not be noticed by those in the majority and it with a sense of fairness that we advocate for minority rights.

Then you need to better understand the underlying philosphy behind the major propoents of modern liberalism. For you it might seem like all that people want is "fairness", but for them, it is a radical shift in culture. Yes, they think capitalism is evil. Yes, they think Christianity is evil. Yes, they think white males are evil. It is not equality they want, it is the destruction of western mores and values.

Christianity is at odds with cerain in-vogue minorities, so it is incompatible for liberals to advocate for equality for everyone. Christianity is at odds with their philosophy, so either their philosphy goes or Christianity goes. Capitalism is at odds with their philosophy, so one of them has to go.

White male, western culture is who they blame fore EVERY ill in the world today. Genocide in Africa? A direct result of western imperialism, or more recently, American imperialism. Tribal conflicts? America's fault. No matter where you go in this world, if there is a conflict, if there is pain and suffereing, it is NOT due to the actions and choices of the polulations involved, it is America. We either acted wrongly or failed to act correctly. Never is blame placed (except in Isreal's case, but ultimately that is also placed on us) on anyone else. You will read only how America is at fault.

More domestically, you can read all about the struggles of various minority classes and how they are victims of the whites. Never is their plight a direct result of their choices or culture. It is simply that the white, Christian male is ultimately at fault.

But back to the philosophy issue. This philosophy fails at several levels, and is ultimately self-defeating. Not all cultures are equally valid. Not all philosophies are equally to be embraced. But the liberal viewpoint, when all the layers are pealed away, ultimatley proposes that nothing is more or less valid and that all views are to be respected and valued. That sounds good in a touchy-feely way, but it cannot withstand even the slightest scrutiny, nor do liberals actually follow that tenant themselves. They make value judegements all the time. They villify those who don't beleive as they do.

Ultimately what liberalism advocates is to accept portions of belief systems that do not make judgements about other belief systems, meaning that there is no moral right or wrong, just choices, as long as you don't hurt anyone. That is moral relativism. Unfortunatley, without an objective standard, you are subject to what someone else determines as "hurt". We see this with laws meant to limit "hate" speach where anyting negative said about a minority class is considered hate. This goes so far as to threaten religious freedom. In several countries, there have been efforts to make sermons regarding the practice of homosexuality prosecutable under hate speach. That is where your path takes us. You might be ok with that, but when you let the camel's nose under the tent, nothing will be safe.

You might be tempted to argue that reasonable people will not do that, but once you give the government the power and the tools to do something, you have given it too much power, and you will be hard-pressed to stop it.

Another problem with this philosophy is the idea that everything can be made equal. That is not possible, nor is it necessarily beneficial. You can't make me as smart as someone else, you can't make someone else as athletic as me. you can't make another person as artistic as Picasso. You can't make some people more socially adept, others more mercifaul, these people here more analyitical, those people there more perceptive. You can't make people more prone to drive and ambition. People are inherently different.

Additionally, culture plays a big role in the equality status of the people in that culture. cultures with differing values will have differing strengths and weaknesses, and those will bear out in how the offspring immersed in that culture do in the greater world. However you might like to think it is the lack of opportunity created by the evil white, Christian, male, capitalists, it is not true and does not bear real scrutiny. Liberlas do not want to look at the root causes of problems they simply want to find a convenient scape-goat to advance their ideology. Within any of the minority groups there are those that succeed and those that fail. The ones who succeed generally are willing to step outside of the failed system and adapt to the culture in which they find themselves.

And this brings us to the next problem. While liberlas are quick to accept Darwinian evolution in nature, they work actively against it in social constructs. However, the fact is, that culture is a living creature hat adapts to the natural forces that act upon it. Only in cases where something lives in isolation does it fail to adapt, and then when it is thrust into a new environment may struggle or become extinct. Our American culture is not monolithic. It is a culmination of all the verious forces that have impacted it to date. Sure, cerain forces had greater influence than others, but as this country is affected by other cultures and ideas, it will adapt, and those that come to this country also will adapt. To force an artifical environment is counter productive and slows the melding of the cultures into a new and more vibrant culture. You are, in efect, creating a fragmentation that will weaken the "creature". The focus on the parts rather than the whole is harmful.

Finally, the key behind Darwinian evolutionary theory is the concept of the "survival of the fittest". It is only those cultures and ideas and choices that strengthen that ultimately result in survivability. It is actually the CONFLICT and the CHALLANGE that makes something strong. I read a brief today on how lab mice are more susceptible to allergies than those found in the wild. It is due to the fact that they have no stress on the system to build protections. You propose to remove all the societal stresses on the system thinking that it will benenifit. It will not. Ultimatley it will harm. Stress, necessity and challenge are what spur on growth and development. If one is not challenged, they attrophy. Happens with muscles, brains, and just about anything. You want to level the playing field and take away the stress. I say you will destroy the culture by doing that.

It is precicely the fact that I am a son of a fatherless, immigrant mother who raised me on her own in poverty that I am who I am today, that I have achieved what I have personally and has formed my character. I do not regret that my half-sister got inheritances from my step-dad's family to the tune of millions while I got zero. I can be proud of what I accomplished because it gives me self-respect to say "I did it on my own dispite my humble beginnings." What can my half-sister say? "I'm rich"? I like my story better.

Now, the same circumstances could have beaten me down, but would I have had any better self-esteem if I relied on hand-outs all my life? It is true that the Kennedy's have it easy. That they are born with the silver spoon, and they are influential in America. The same can be said for the Bush family. That is not fair. So what? tha vast majority of us are not an an even keel with them, and we can go on to have very happy, healty lives with meaning. Many others find a way to join the Kennedy and Bush families, at least in wealth, if not power, and they did it with humbler beginings than I had.

But if you truely want to advocate for true equality, America itself is the Kennedy family and the vast majority of the world is dirt poor. You really want to help the world, sell your holding in the US, and move to Ghana. you could feed a village on what you have. Liberals never seem to want to go that far, so forgive me if I am not enamored by their theories when they can;t step out of their own relative world wealth and put their money where their philosophy is.

So, no, we don't throw crumbs to the minorities. We give them the same thinge everyone else has: A chance to make their way in the country with whatever deal they were given in life and they can make choices and play that hand like everyone else. We don't take the cards away from person A and give them to person B. Ultimatley you will create resentment from person A and have not allowed person B to develop their own self-respect.

In regards to the specifics of this post, my position is to allow the Muslims to practice their religion freely. We are NOT a religion NEUTRAL country, we are a country of religious freedom. The distinction is that people are free to worship not taht they are restricted from affecting anyone by their worship. But if we allow one to worship freely, we have to provide the same legal protections to every religion. We don't reverse discriminate to redress some preceived imbalance, and we don't try to sujugate the majority to the wants of every identifiable minority. We blend and we adapt, and it is not fair. The majority is what the majority becomes when all parts are put into the whole. The outliers will likely both move to the center and draw the center out to where they are. Let the natural process work and simply create a system where everyone is free to make their own way.

-Eyago

Posted by: Eyago on June 20, 2006 01:14 PM
115. Eyago, that was a righteous grand rant! (turn on your spell checker, ok?)

Posted by: Peggy U on June 20, 2006 01:37 PM
116. (turn on your spell checker, ok?)

Spell checker? There is no spell checker here is there? Hard to type with three young ones always interrupting. I'm surprised I can even keep a thought long enough to get it in writing. :) I guess I'll compose in Word and paste next time.

Posted by: Eyago on June 20, 2006 01:53 PM
117. Eyago: You are funny! I guess you're right - you'd have to copy and paste from elsewhere. I thought it was a pretty coherent rant, so I didn't want someone taking pot shots at the spelling and disregarding the content, that's all. I hate it when people dismiss a good argument because of petty issues.

Posted by: Peggy U on June 20, 2006 02:48 PM
118. Dan,

The values of equality may be utopian, but they are very American. Have your war with Islam, but try not to lose the values that make America worth holding on to.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 20, 2006 10:37 PM
119. Peggy,

I agree that there is a big difference between college and k-12 (I wouldn't dream of teaching in the k-12 system for lots of different reasons). However, in my own experience as a student and my experience in watching an excellent public elementary school, I think that students can quietly leave/enter a classroom and it not be a disruption to learning. Another place we agree to disagree?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 20, 2006 10:42 PM
120. Chris B: I'm glad your educational experience has been so positive. I'm just saying, lots of things sound good in theory that are utter disasters in practice. I think this is one of those things. So, yes, I agree, we disagree!

I am with Eyago on redistribution of wealth and privilege. People who have any self motivation and half a brain will ultimately find themselves moving forward in our society. There are those who will rise to the top, in spite of daunting odds. There are, conversely, people who seem to be born with everything who wind up going nowhere. There are also people who start at the bottom and stay there. I think the less meddling on the part of do-gooders, the better. And I am going to reiterate that allowing people to make their own choices when it comes to education is the best cure for "unfairness". How do you feel about vouchers? I have yet to hear a sensible argument for not taking that avenue.

Posted by: Peggy U on June 20, 2006 11:29 PM
121. Eyago,
Who are the major proponents of modern liberalism that you are talking about? I don’t agree with your opinion that “they” see all of these things as evil. For one thing, your opinion is too black&white to cover the philosophy of liberalism. From a liberal perspective, “Evil”, applied in the way you claim, does not allow for the shades of gray that life requires.

Blaming white male, western culture for every ill is also too black&white to describe a liberal philosophy. Instead, the ideal is to look at many different pieces of an interconnected system and analyze how the various factors play a role. Yes, looking at the advantages the dominant culture brings to a situation is part of that analysis, but it is not the whole of it. Characterizing liberal philosophy as just blaming the dominant culture is a misrepresentation of that philosophy made from a perspective of black&white thinking. You may not be privy to the fuller discussions of various factors, but that does not mean they are not happening.

Regarding equality, I am not saying that everyone is created equal (although that does have a nice ring to it…) and I do think one has to play the hand that they are dealt. However, I think Americans value fair play. You said that I “want to level the playing field and take away the stress.” You are absolutely correct in that observation (maybe not about the stress part). I don’t believe that it destroys the culture by trying to level the playing field. What American prefers watching a fixed game? Sure, there is excitement and pride when the underdog wins despite the odds, but wouldn’t you prefer to watch a hard-fought game with fair refs?

I don’t think that selling my holdings and moving to Ghana is a solution (although Ghana is a beautiful country). Again, that seems too simplistic of an idea. I am not going to be the savior swooping into Ghana and feeding a village. Ghanaians have to lead the solutions to their own situation. We need to cover the ground we’re standing on. As an American citizen, my first responsibility is to trying to make the U.S. the best U.S. it can be. Of course, what “the best the U.S. can be” would look different for me than for you.

The phrase “religion neutral” country was your phrase from a previous comment.

I have no doubt that resentment comes up when person A gets their cards taken away from them and given to person B. However, if they were dealt 5 more cards than the other person, and the game is allowed to be played, there will also be resentment from person B towards person A. To continue this analogy and bring this back to the original post, getting your sacred day as the official day off is like getting an extra card. It is not the “luck of the draw”, since it is officially sanctioned and not random. What can be done about this on a practical level is problematic, but at the very least I think it is important to acknowledge that we should strive to do better.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 20, 2006 11:54 PM
122. Peggy,

I think that another good candidate for "lots of things sound good in theory that are utter disasters in practice" includes the theory that the cream rises to the top. We hear the feel-good stories of the few who make it despite all odds. However, those wouldn't be that engaging as stories if they were the norm. The cat that survives being locked away in a box shipped to France is interesting not only because it has a happy ending, but also because it is a lot rarer than the cat getting lost and ultimately finding out that it was run over by a car. I think we should strive to make the system as fair as possible (knowing that it will never be exactly fair) and then watching who succeeds.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 21, 2006 12:03 AM
123. Peggy,

Regarding vouchers, this is probably going more off-topic than I want to, but yes I am against them. I think the public school system with the goal of education for all is vital for the U.S. I see a lot of problems with our current public school education and I don't think the solution is to take more money out of the system with the idea that competition will make the public school system better. In life, I have seen some people react positively to competition and others I have seen melt away from competition and ultimately, not do their best. If I had to generalize, I would say that it makes sense to have the people drawn to working at Microsoft motivated through competing for dollars and have the people drawn to working in the k-12 system motivated other ways.

As long as I am going out on this discussion limb, I think the a major problem with our public school system is what we demand of our teachers. A good, competent teacher working a reasonable amount cannot last in this system. Either you have to be a slacker who doesn't care or you have to be a superstar or you have to work way too many hours than should be required. I know expert elementary and high school teachers who do excellent work and don't drive themselves completely into the ground because they are really, really good. Then I know teachers who could be that good but won't last more than 5 years in teaching because they can't sustain the life of working long days and going into school every weekend for several more hours. So, we have a system that gives us slackers who don't care and a few superstars. It is a futile practice to try to force out the slackers when they will just be replaced by other slackers. We need to make the job a do-able job for good teachers. Then the slackers can actually be replaced.

From my own experience as a teacher and knowing others, class size is the biggest deal in terms of a reasonable workload. Not only is classroom management easier, but all of the other paperwork load is reduced.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 21, 2006 12:25 AM
124. Andy?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 21, 2006 12:43 AM
125. Chris B.

I will (hopefully) end with this post.

Who are the major proponents of modern liberalism that you are talking about? I don’t agree with your opinion that “they” see all of these things as evil. For one thing, your opinion is too black&white to cover the philosophy of liberalism. From a liberal perspective, “Evil”, applied in the way you claim, does not allow for the shades of gray that life requires.

I do not think that you personally might be one of the people I describe when I refer to modern liberalism and it's antagonism for western culture and values. I think one can legitimately hold values of equality and fairness devoid of the judgment I assign to certain forces involved in the modern movement. Your motivations are laudable in that they seek the lofty goal of rights and respect for all. However, I think that you may be surprised what is really going on with the more radical elements that drive the overall agenda. Just like radical factions on the right go to extremes, the left also has its extremes. Take Nick Burg's father for instance. He has only contempt for the US and its role in the war on terrorism and EXCUSES the ACTUAL perpetrators of his son's murder. But it is not him that is the concern, it is all those who amplify his message and use it as a political and social bludgeon.

My point in discussing this is to point out the ultimate goals of the radical elements and how these goals (many of which you are in agreement with in principle) are destructive and will not result in the utopia that you envision. I hope that you can look critically at the underlying agendas of the LLL and be discerning about what they actually stand for. I do the same for the right so that I do not get caught up in ideology that is too far removed from practical reality.


Regarding equality, I am not saying that everyone is created equal (although that does have a nice ring to it…) and I do think one has to play the hand that they are dealt. However, I think Americans value fair play. You said that I “want to level the playing field and take away the stress.” You are absolutely correct in that observation (maybe not about the stress part). I don’t believe that it destroys the culture by trying to level the playing field. What American prefers watching a fixed game? Sure, there is excitement and pride when the underdog wins despite the odds, but wouldn’t you prefer to watch a hard-fought game with fair refs?

I don't think you are asking for "fair refs" by what you advocate. Instead you seem to advocate the shuffling of players until both teams are evenly matched. This might be great at the kindergarten level, but is not so good later on. In a sense, you are saying it is ok to handicap one team because they have and advantage over the other team. Now, if you really simply wanted fair refs, then you would agree that true neutrality in religion (I apologize for my ambiguity on this term and my being critical of your use of it) means not penalizing one side as a way to redress the inequality in the other. To level the playing field you give both sides the same respect and ability to worship in freedom rather than make arbitrary rules in the middle of the game to help a team that does not have the advantage.

At one point you suggested maybe going to a 4 day schedule so that Muslim students can have their worship day off as well. That would be an undue burden to the entire culture. As I have said, we have the weekend we have as part of our tradition and it is too ingrained now to change without major upheaval. It was rooted in religion, but it now exists independently of that religion. It is its own cultural construct. Now, if you want to add Fridays off, you would require nearly every family who has kids in school to use all their vacation days taking Fridays off or changing the entire US work schedule to accommodate. THAT is an extreme that makes no sense. For a very minor population of maybe 3%, you advocate for 97% to bear a huge burden (Disclaimer: I have no clue as to the actual population of Muslim worshipers attending public schools). That is why I have a problem with the liberal “idealism”. A better solution might be to find what time periods Muslims are expected to pray and adjust the school class schedule to be more accommodating. I don’t think they have more than 2 prayer periods during the school day, so a shift in class times or the option of having “home room” periods at those times would be good. I can’t suggest more without knowing the specifics. As I have said before, I don’t care who worships in school as long as the refs don’t arbitrarily allow some teams to worship and red card others for doing the same thing.

Personally, I DO root for the underdog, but as soon as I learn the underdog got a “help”, I no longer root for them. I always root against the NY Yankees. I think they have an unfair advantage. I find it all the more satisfying when the other team wins despite the odds. I certainly would not want the baseball commissioner to force ARod to play for the opposing team. At that point I would lose interest in the game, OR I might begin to shift my sympathy for the Yankees and start rooting for them.

I have no doubt that resentment comes up when person A gets their cards taken away from them and given to person B. However, if they were dealt 5 more cards than the other person, and the game is allowed to be played, there will also be resentment from person B towards person A.

This is where I think your idealism has gotten the better of you. First you project resentment where there may not be any, and second, in highlighting that disparity and making an issue of it, you can foster resentment. The problem with your liberal idealism is that it focuses too much on one ideal and discounts the impacts to the society as a whole. It is too focused on special needs. We all have special needs, the point is to get over them, not indulge them to the detriment of others, it only creates class conflict that way. I was not born rich like the Kennedys, but you say I should be resentful that they got sixteen DECKS, while I only had four CARDS, and tattered ones at that. You say I should demand a level playing field. The Kennedy kids should all have been stripped of their fortunes, made to attend an inner city public school, and live in a small apartment with noisy neighbors in a gang-infested neighborhood. THAT is leveling the playing field. THEN, if the Kennedys managed to rise to political prominence and be Senators and Congressmen, they might be lauded as worthy of respect, sort of like Condoleeza Rice. Carry your idealism to the logical conclusion. We do not have a level playing field, and you cannot create one through government intervention. I don’t teach my kids that life is fair. I tell them to expect unfairness and to get on with life anyway. Take the hand you are dealt and take pride in how you play it. It was not fair that they were born with medical issues that caused them to be placed in a Chinese orphanage, but they are certainly more fortunate than those who did note get adopted. It is not fair that some kids are born in Somalia while others are born to a billionaire. I will not advocate the leveling of the playing field by tearing down the fortunate. If I am going to level the paying field, I will work to lift up the unfortunate. That is how I will play my hand, not by using the government to take YOUR cards, but use my cards to the best of my ability and to use them to help someone else who got a worse hand than I did.

You see, the biggest tragedy in life to me is not how bad the hand is for anyone. It is how someone wallows in how bad their hand is. Happiness is not contingent on what you get in life, it comes from the self-respect you earn by living with integrity and focusing on what is really important: The freedom to pursue your beliefs and the ability to do something meaningful with your life. Wanting what others have is self-defeating. Envy is a destructive emotion, and dwelling on “unfairness” will only embitter your life. Taking from others will not make you happier whether you do the taking or someone else does it on your behalf. Poor Tibetan sheepherders have very happy lives but they live in material poverty. Someone should tell them how miserable they SHOULD be because of what they don’t have.

-Eyago

Posted by: Eyago on June 21, 2006 06:11 AM
126. Eyago,

Thank you for this thoughtful discussion.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 21, 2006 10:14 AM
127. Vouchers don't take money out of the system. It is still there, but in the hands of the consumers (rich, poor, Muslim, Christian, black, white...)- which is where it belongs. The money goes with the student, as it already does - but now the student gets to choose. In this case people are not reacting to competition - schools are. This is a big difference. And, yes, some schools would close because of this, some students would have to shop elsewhere, and some teachers would lose their jobs. That's pretty much how it works for the rest of us! My husband has been laid off twice, for example. You get through it and move on.

Actually, I think you underestimate the amount of discontent parents have with the current set up. People are leaving anyway, and resorting to private schools and home schooling, or moving to communities whose schools do a better job. I am very surprised at the large number of people I have met recently who are trying home schooling for the first time. These are people who have said goodbye to their tax dollars and restructured their lives (at their own expense) to provide their children with the basic education their parents felt they weren't getting. That's not something you do on a whim.

I think it is interesting that you see vouchers as being "off topic", because I don't. Vouchers would allow students (such as Samia) to seek out what they want in a school, instead of schools being able to tell students what they WILL have, like it or not. As I said before, online schools are a step in the right direction, as tax money follows students when they shift their attendance (and students do not have to relocate to attend). Right now, you should know, that Insight School has received far more applicants than it can accept. Does that tell you anything about our satisfaction with the current arrangement?

Posted by: Peggy U on June 21, 2006 11:10 AM
128. Peggy,

I don't underestimate the dissatisfaction people have with the public school system. Personally, I am not impressed with the public school system. However, I am interested in how we improve the system, because I feel that universal education is one of the keys in maintaining our democracy. We can't give up on it. I don't think that suggesting that a Muslim student go find another school outside of the public school is healthy for our democracy.

I don't begrudge someone making the choice to take their child out of the public school system, but I believe that voucers do take the money out of the public school system and places it elsewhere. Taking the money with them is not going to help improve the public school system.

On another point, I hate the idea of education moving toward on-line classes. I think too much richness is lost, although I do understand that it is the better choice for some individuals.

Posted by: ChrisB on June 21, 2006 12:21 PM
129. Chris B: After watching the trends in our schools for the past 20 years, my feeling is that they are broken beyond repair. With a voucher system all schools become, in a sense, public schools. As to the "richness" being lost with online schooling, there is some truth to that (although "real" schools are cutting back on the "rich" part with all of the rules and regulations; because of safety regulations, the chemistry labs my son had were nowhere near as interesting as the ones I had in school). However, what is lost is compensated with flexibility. Students are freer to schedule their time to pursue other interests outside of the classroom. That could mean extra time spent reading for the fun of it, praying, joining the boy scouts or 4-H, volunteering, etc. In a way, I think streamlining the "education" process this way frees up more time for kids to get outside and "learn".

Posted by: Peggy U on June 21, 2006 12:34 PM
130. Ok, I lied. I am adding another post simply because I ran across this article in a not-conservative source that shows even some liberals are starting to see the light on one of my points. It's not much, but it's a start and worth a quick read.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1802149,00.html

-Eyago

Posted by: Eyago on June 21, 2006 03:43 PM
131. Andy?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 23, 2006 06:22 PM
132. Andy?

Posted by: ChrisB on June 26, 2006 05:25 PM
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