Are American Schools Forcing Children to Engage in Muslim Rituals?

posed by Marshall Fritz

answer by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.

 

Q. Is there another side to the story about this 9th circuit court decision dismissing constitutionality concerns over a Byron Union School District, in Byron, Calif. program that required students to pretend that they are Muslims?
 

A. In the past there have been numerous false allegations of government schools forcing children to play-act at being Muslims under the cover of teaching world culture or religion. These allegations have usually been blatantly false. An amicus brief filed by the CALIFORNIA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION and NATIONAL SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION suggests that the case of US 9th Circuit re Byron, Calif School Unit on Islam may be different. Although the circuit court ruling is unpublished, by overturning the lower court, it appears as if the circuit court may be saying that forcing non-Muslim students to imitate Muslim ritual is not a violation of the studentsí (or at least the parentsí) freedom of religion is because the students are only play-acting a fantasy. In other words, the religious innocuousness of the act is predicated on the presumed REJECTION of the actís religious significance. This is not Muslims imposing their will on Christians, it is secularists making a mockery of religious ritual per se.

If I am correct, then it seems to me that the plaintiffs doomed their own case by erroneously presenting it as a matter of the school imposing Islam on the students. The school, which rejects all religion, is not exalting Islam above Christianity but demeaning both. Had the plaintiffs used that approach they might have won. Instead they asked the court to address a narrow question: Was the school trying to turn the students into Muslims? It is no surprise that the court answered no. To the degree that that the government school system has any religious purpose it is to secularize the students.

Perhaps now some Muslim group should sue the school using the correct argument. If not, then maybe some Hindu group will sue the schools when they start forcing Muslim children to insincerely profess their adoration of Krishna.


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