"Free Exercise of Religion"--Muslim boy vs. Public School

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 4EvrLearning, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. 4EvrLearning

    4EvrLearning New Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Left Coast
    I received this story through ACT! for America (Brigitte Gabriel's organization.) This was attached as the first part of a series they are sending to subscribers called "Properly Understanding the Times."

    In addition to the article below, the following video link is extremely enlightening, from a global viewpoint of Islam.


    Muslim boy looking for a place to pray
    Thursday, February 19, 2009


    WAYNE -- Rola Awwad wants a private space for her 10-year-old son at Albert Payson Terhune Elementary School to exercise his right to Muslim prayer.

    The school district had offered to let him pray at recess -- either outside or in a classroom while classmates are there. And that, says Awwad, is "unacceptable."

    All students are constitutionally guaranteed the right to pray during the school day as long as it doesn't interfere with learning. But Wayne is struggling with what accommodations to make if a Muslim student requests privacy for prayer.

    The answer in other North Jersey districts ranges from providing access to the principal's office, to providing a spare room. But school administrators in suburban Wayne have been weighing the question since fall, when Awwad asked the principal to allow her son, Adam, a few minutes of privacy each afternoon to pray.

    The district says it's concerned about allowing a young pupil to be unsupervised, even for a short time, and Awwad said her request was met with resistance.

    "Why can't he be on his own for five minutes praying?" said Awwad, a Palestinian who moved to the United States from Jordan 11 years ago.

    She said it's important to her that her children go to public school and make diverse friends. But she also wants them to be able to practice their religion.

    "All I want from the school is to let my son pray in a private place in a small room, say his prayer and go back to class," she said.

    Muslims pray five times a day to reaffirm their faith and submit to follow divine commandments. The prayer is said during prescribed times; in the fall, when the clocks roll back at the end of daylight savings time, the afternoon prayer must be said during the school day, Awwad explained.

    Federal guidelines say schools can't prevent students from praying during school hours, but schools can't sponsor religious activities or lead students in prayer. But the guidelines don't provide specifics on how schools should handle requests like Awwad's. And because that's left to the discretion of school administrators, North Jersey districts have responded with a hodgepodge of approaches.

    In Passaic, an elementary school student is allowed to pray privately in a classroom storage closet, Superintendent Robert Holster said. A middle school principal in Cliffside Park allows a student to pray in her office, Superintendent Michael Romagnino said. If an elementary school child wanted a private place to pray, the superintendent said he would ask the principal to make an accommodation in an available office.

    And Teaneck High School sets aside a room where Muslim students are allowed to go and say their prayers, said district spokesman Dave Bicofsky.

    Wayne's district does not even have a consistent approach among its schools, The Record found in interviews with parents and the administration.

    Awwad said when she first made her request, she was advised to pick up Adam at lunch and take him out of school to say prayers, which she has done for the last several months. When she pressed to have him allowed to pray in the building, the district offered to let Adam pray outside during lunch, or in the classroom during recess when the weather was bad.

    But another elementary school principal in the district had offered to let a student pray in an office.

    School board Attorney John Croot said the district thought it had made an "acceptable accommodation" when it offered to let Muslim students pray outside during lunch, or inside in a classroom in days of bad weather. He said the district is trying to strike a balance between constitutional principles.

    For school officials, the issue is complicated by the degree of religious practice: For instance, federal guidelines specifically mention a student's right to quietly read the Bible during lunch. But the guidelines are not clear on what a district should do when the expression of religion is more demonstrative, as it is in Adam's case.

    "Then you are talking about a public school district," Croot said. "You have to carefully weigh the constitutional issues. It's a balance between the free exercise of religion and the concept of the separation of church and state. It's a public school district and you have to consider those constitutional issues."

    Croot said he sought guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and was advised the district should have a consistent approach.

    Awwad told the district in a letter that its latest accommodation "is unacceptable." Her son would have to put his prayer mat and touch his forehead on the damp ground if he prayed outside. And she said Adam was worried that other students would ridicule him if he prayed in the classroom.

    Croot said "nothing has been foreclosed yet. We are still in discussions. We have indicated one possible accommodation that would have been acceptable, but there may be other accommodations that we could reach."


    To subscribe to ACT! for America and receive pertinent information re: the rise of Islam in the US and elsewhere, here is their link: www.actforamerica.org
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2009
  2. 94z07

    94z07 New Member

    Feb 28, 2009
    Oh well it seems that the secular progressive liberal education industry (big education) wasn't anti-religion after all. They were only anti-Christian.

  3. Vladimir

    Vladimir New Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Issaquah WA
    Let him go to an administrators office during recess to pray, no biggy. There I solved their problem... :D
  4. 4EvrLearning

    4EvrLearning New Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Left Coast
    *forehead slap* Where have you been!? Get over to that school district NOW, Vladimir, and square this away!! :)

    If only this situation were that easy. It's not the specifics of which room to use for prayer that is of greatest concern, of course...it's all the underlying and subsequent issues...and precedents that will continue to be set--not only in schools, but in businesses, the world of finance, etc.

    The video link in my first post above makes this concept very clear.
  5. You just hit the nail right square on the head:mad::mad::mad::mad:
  6. As far as I'm concerned....the whole education system went down hill when they took prayer out of the schools.

    And right now, as far as I'm concerned, there should be no discussion about the Muslims getting prayer rights. The answer is NO.

    This is America! One Nation Under God. But they don't teach that anymore do they?

    oh yes... and Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness isn't taught anymore either....
    now it's death, slavery and the pursuit of control.

    wow... One short year ago, we still had hope for life, liberty and happiness.
    now it's fear, anger and being generally ticked off!


    more drinks please....:mad:
  7. ponycar17

    ponycar17 Active Member

    Feb 17, 2005
    South Carolina
    As an aside, on the opposite side of that 'private' prayer issue...

    The college I attended, Clemson University, had a 6 story library with 3 floors below ground and 3 above. I chose to study often on the 1st floor, deep within the library. One day, shortly after 9/11, I was studying when an Islamic student sat near me and started placing white 8 1/2 x 11" sheets of printer paper on the floor to shape a prayer rug to pray openly.

    Now, it's not that I mind him praying and all but I did my share of praying as I packed my stuff and rushed my arse up the stairs!!!!... :D
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2009
  8. RunningOnMT

    RunningOnMT New Member

    Nov 19, 2008
    Akron, Ohio
    My thought is that anyone can pray (quietly) anytime they want. No institution can prohibit this. If they want to pray or perform any religous ritual that would be disruptive to everyone else then it is up to them to conform or find another school. Christian kids all over the nation have been denied the use of classrooms after hours for Bible study and other activities because it was deemed unconstitutional to allow public school property to be used for such purposes. My Jewish friends when I was in school went to hebrew school after hours at a Jewish facility. Catholic and other Christian parents have for years spent their own money to send their kids to parochial schools so they could have the type of instruction and activities they desired. I would suggest the muslim parents do the same.
  9. Vladimir

    Vladimir New Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Issaquah WA
    There is a difference between prayer and instruction though. Not all faiths, and indeed not even all sects pray the same way. Being Orthodox I prostrate regularly, though not in a public setting like at school. If it was part of my faith that I had to, it is very easy to see myself in this student's shoes.

    Being at a Presbyterian university it took me some time to get comfortable even crossing myself during prayer (we pray frequently in class), but eventually I got over it.

    But it is easy to put myself into this student's shoes. Though I disagree with some of the debate (students will mock him seeing him pray, but they won't when he goes to a broom closet to pray every day?) the conclusion is completely fair in my opinion.

    Though we are One Nation Under God, this has no conflict with that. First off we worship the same God. No matter how you want to argue it, if Muslims worship a different deity then Christians and Jews must surely worship separate deities as well (not intending to turn this thread into a debate on that, if someone gets riled up feel free to start a new thread and I will join in :D). Secondly it doesn't matter because though we are One Nation Under God, the freedom of faith, and practicing that faith is guaranteed, regardless of what faith that might be.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2009
  10. 4EvrLearning

    4EvrLearning New Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Left Coast
    Boiling this situation (and others like it) down to the basic elements, I come to these points:

    1. Yes, we have freedom of religion; i.e., no government-mandated religion that all must follow "or else."

    2. We were founded as one nation under God, and I will agree to disagree about whether the Muslim deity is the same God as the Judeo-Christian God of the Old and New Testaments.

    3. Due to incorrect interpretations and applications of separation of Church and State, we have arrived at the place where prayer isn't done corporately in schools; courthouses can't display (generally speaking) the 10 Commandments; nativity scenes are forbidden in certain public squares, etc. Given the moral and religious diversity of our population, these aren't surprising, but they do show a major shift in thinking from the days of our founding.

    4. Now, we have a particular religious group on our soil, gathering momentum in DEMANDING concessions to their prayer and religious practices. Several businesses have had to deal with allowing employees to leave their work stations several times a day in order to pray; some universities have modified their gym hours to answer the demands of female Muslim students who want to use the facilities without males around. Banks and other financial institutions are complying with Shariah finance rules.

    Whole departments of education have re-written history books for middle school students to disproportionately and erroneously represent Islam's history and teachings. In fact, some schools are including very specific teachings in their curriculum about "how to be a Muslim"...during public school "separation of church and state" hours! In my city, a word-search activity for 7th graders had a hidden message once all the words were found. The message? "Allah is God." I saw the activity page personally. (Imagine an activity that left students with the message, "Jesus is Lord.")

    Almost daily, there are examples of demands being made that are challenging our business, educational and legal systems.

    5. As RunningOnMT expressed, this isn't about people in the US practicing their faith quietly and respectfully. This is about a VERY SMALL percentage of people imposing their faith on our established culture and society. With such divisiveness, we cannot be "ONE Nation Under God." Oneness implies mutual respect, cooperation and lack of favoritism. I'm seeing the opposite happening.

    Let me pose this question for comparison's sake only: Can any of us imagine going to a country that is even 25% Muslim, and DEMANDING ANY concessions affiliated with a faith other than Islam? Although this isn't about two wrongs making a right, it wouldn't take long to come up with a list of scenarios that wouldn't play out well in such a situation.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2009
  11. Deathbunny

    Deathbunny Former Guest

    Aug 25, 2008
    Well, I worship Odin. Y'think they'd let me step outside to burn some goat meat on my altar? :D
    This isn't about religion, it's about power. This woman wants the school to organize its policies around her beliefs. Well, fu*k that! The free exercise of religion demands that it not interfere with others'. This most definately counts as interference.
  12. Vladimir

    Vladimir New Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Issaquah WA
  13. guntech59

    guntech59 New Member

    Dec 1, 2008
    Adirondack foothills
    Quote from C&P "All students are constitutionally guaranteed the right to pray during the school day as long as it doesn't interfere with learning."

    This is a problem for me. I would like for these "Professional Educators" to show me EXACTLY where, in the Constitution, this is mentioned. This child has no "right" to a private place to pray.

    Just another example of minorities demanding what the majority cannot get, and the pusses caving in to them because they are afraid they will offend someone.

    If it bothers her that much, perhaps she should home-school him.
  14. Deathbunny

    Deathbunny Former Guest

    Aug 25, 2008
    If a child of one religion is granted time and location to pray, then all others must be allowed the same right. Otherwise, it's blatant favoritism. Naturally, having students constantly coming and going to attend to their various religious activities would disrupt classes. It's a school. Not a church, temple, mosque, shrine, synagogue, sacred circle, or altar.
    If his mom feels that strongly, home school or private school are 2 common options.
  15. 4EvrLearning

    4EvrLearning New Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Left Coast
    Taking the child out of the public school and homeschooling him or putting him in a private school would be a passive move.

    Deathbunny, when you said this was about power (i.e., control; coercion) you were right. There is no desire here to be passive or take the path of least resistance. Quite the contrary.
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