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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Role of Islam in Public Schools Challenged

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard argument in a case brought by two Christian families who are challenging
a public school's effort to acquaint students with Islam... by having the students don Islamic dress, recite phrases from the Koran, and mimic the fasting associated with the Muslim observance of Ramadan.
According to the parents, these efforts violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. During argument, the lawyer for the families partially described what he thought was offensive of the Constitution:
during the eight-week unit on Islam, religious teachings were described as "facts" and students were instructed to wear name tags that included the religion's star-and-crescent imagery.
He also suggested that this would be an easier case had the dispute involved Christian teachings and imagery instead: "If this case dealt with the teaching of Catholicism... of course people would say you're endorsing religion...."

A federal district court threw out the suit; the families appealed. Apparently the circuit judges hearing the appeal were also skeptical of the plaintiffs' arguments. Indeed, one judge asked, "Are you saying our children should not be taught the history of all the religions of the world?"

Also, the lawyer for the school noted that none of the school officials involved in the case is Muslim: "It would just be bizarre for the school to have a secret agenda to indoctrinate students in a religion to which they did not subscribe," she said.

[Hat tip: "How Appealing."]

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