While France rejects Islamic headscarves and other forms of religious expression in public schools, American schools are actively inviting Muslims (in some cases from outside the school) to express their faith and even requiring classes to participate.
A federal judge recently decided there was no establishment of religion when a teacher asked students to pretend to be Muslims for three weeks. The role-playing activities included choosing a Muslim name, wearing Arabic clothes, recite Muslim prayers, and play a board game in which they raced to Mecca.
A Christian family objected. "I think it's pretty cut and dry," Jonas Eklund, a parent of one of the students said. "Three weeks of Islam and they won't teach any other religion. That was our problem with it." The judge (who also sided with Planned Parenthood against the partial-birth abortion ban) ruled in favor of the school district. The district argued that role-playing is a teaching technique that was used in a historical context. According to Islam Online, the principle said "that not only Islam, but Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and other major religions are also taught as they apply to the understanding of history and the development of major Western and non-Western civilizations."
The Thomas More Law Center argued that the school used a double standard. According to the Contra Costa Times, "It is hypocritical that schools are not allowed to post the Ten Commandments, while Byron [school] students were allowed to recite 'In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,' " said Richard Thompson, chief counsel and president of the law center.
It's not really hypocritical, though because Jesus wasn't really born in a stable, according New York City lawyers. They argued on behalf of a school system saying the "suggestion that a crèche is a historically accurate representation of an event with secular significance is wholly disingenuous." Parents sued, objecting to the removal of a nativity scene while the school urged teachers to bring in "religious symbols" representing Jewish and Islamic religions.
Maybe the parents could move to Houston, where no one is rejecting Jesus' birth, they're just teaching witchcraft. Parents there got upset when a student brought home a book on Wicca. "For someone to put this bad seed into my child's thoughts, and try to cloud the goodness that is in his mind is really what bothers me," one parent said.
Outside Cincinnati, parents found it "curious" when a middle school invited the local Islamic center's school to perform a "Ramadan Rap" during a Christmas concert. " Mason Intermediate School Principal Cathy Hunter told the Cincinnati Enquirer, "We have been such a homogenous community here in Mason but now we are getting kids from all over the world. But the younger we start teaching diversity, we hope that it has a trickle-up effect on the whole community."
No lawsuits yet.
An appeals court panel upheld an Ohio partial-birth abortion ban in a 2-1 ruling yesterday. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling that banned the ban before it could take effect. Ohio Right to Life released a statement praising the decision.
Following up on a recent CTstory, a Connecticut library that had banned an artist's display, which included pictures of Jesus has now allowed Mary Morley to display her paintings. The library is now preparing for a backlash. According to the Record-Journal in Meriden, the library board said, "Although, as demonstrated throughout history, religion stirs great passions, those who have directed their anger at the Library Director are urged to reconsider her role in this controversy. Ms. Trotta has served this community and the Library well for many years. She is a person of the highest moral character and deserves the support not only of the Library Board but also of our community as a whole."
France bans religious expression in schools:
- Chirac Wants Religious Attire Banned in Public Schools | President Jacques Chirac called today for a new law banning the wearing of religious symbols in French public schools — large crosses for Christians, head scarves for Muslim girls, or skullcaps for Jewish boys. (New York Times)
- Chirac Backs Law to Keep Signs of Faith Out of School | Ignoring opposition from Muslim leaders within France and beyond, President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday called for a new law banning the wearing of head scarves for Muslim girls, large crosses for Christians and skullcaps for Jewish boys in public schools. (New York Times)
- France to Move Swiftly on Muslim Headscarf Ban | French Education Minister Luc Ferry said Thursday he planned to submit to parliament early next year a draft law banning religious symbols such as Islamic headscarves in state schools. (Reuters)
- French President Urges Ban On Head Scarves in Schools | Chirac Confronts Spread of Islam (Washington Post)
- Chirac Proposes Ban on Head Scarves | France must reaffirm its secularism, president says. Law would limit religious garb in schools. (Los Angeles Times)
- Gift-wrapping available free | Christmas shoppers at The Harlequin shopping centre, Watford, can have their presents gift-wrapped by local Christians, specially trained in the art. (Watford Observer, UK)
- Administering God's dominion requires respect for all life | Dick Austin began his ministry hoping society could make substantial progress toward environmental change in the last part of the 20th century. But Christians and churches have been slow to come to the realization that caring for the environment is part of faith and ministry, he says. (Coalfield Progress, Virginia)
- Symphony Not Members Only | Church group reaches out to young musicians (The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer)
- Serving God is now his top priority | It was as an entertainer that Gary Davis, a gifted and talented native of Bimini, attained a degree of fame in the 1970s and early 1980s before giving it all up after being saved and accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. (Nassau Guardian, Bahamas)
- 'Angel on earth' donates kidney to friend | Maryjo Parker, a Houston County native who now lives in Cunningham, said she just did what "many good Christians" would also do when she became Rhone's kidney donor July 16. (Clarksville Leaf Chronicle, Tennessee)
- City honors local musician, pastor | In 1975, Meekins, now 56, had a recording contract with the biggest record company of the time, Warner Bros. He was one of the original members of local legends The Coastliners, a rock band most associated with the 1960s. He had traveled with stage icon Liza Minelli. He gave it all up and moved from Palm Springs back to the Baytown area the next year after converting to Christianity, taking his gifts back to his hometown, especially its Christian community. (Baytown Sun, Texas)
- Church gets grant to aid its pastors | The Evangelical Covenant Church, a national denomination with headquarters on the Northwest Side, got a huge grant from the Lilly Endowment that, church officials said, will revolutionize continuing education for their pastors. (Chicago Tribune)
- 'Revolve' packages Bible for teens | At first glance, Revolve doesn't look anything like a Bible; it looks more like a glamour magazine for teenage girls. But the centerpiece of Revolve is the New Testament, printed in its entirety in the New Century Version, a translation that has been out since the 1980s and is known for its contemporary, easy-to-understand language. (Jupiter Courier, Florida)
- Fr. Layson accepts Ninoy Aquino award on behalf of all "who labor for peace in Mindanao" | In his acceptance speech at the residence of the Ambassador of the United States in Manila Thursday noon, Father Layson, 44, also head of the Oblates of the Mary Immaculate's interreligious dialogue, said working for peace and dialogue in Mindanao is "very difficult but it is not entirely impossible." (Minda News, Philippines)
- Pricey House for Salvation Army Official Assailed | Some questioned whether the $430,000 construction project, on a lot worth an estimated $538,600, was out of character for an organization that portrays itself as austere and promises "the best use of your donated dollars." (Los Angles Times)
Pat Robertson in Israel:
- Christians recognize Israel's spiritual right to exist | Addressing the Herzliya Conference this morning, Dr. Pat Robertson, the Chairman of the Christian Broadcast Network, warned that a sovereign Palestinian state would fatally compromise Israel's security. He warned against the possibility that such a state would have the sovereign right to control the entry of weapons and personnel into the area. (Arutz Sheva, Israel)
- CBN chief: It's a religious war | Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) Director Pat Robertson said Wednesday the world is convulsed in a religious struggle in which the central issue is whether Islam's Allah or the LORD God of the Jews and Christians is supreme. (Jerusalem Newswire)
- Queens Holocaust survivor meets with Catholic savior | Jadviga Seledevskaya, flew in from Belarus to Kennedy Airport to see the two Silverman brothers her family rescued when she was a teenager. The Silvermans and Seledevskaya were reunited by the Manhattan-based Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, a group that finds, honors and financially supports hundreds of Christians and Muslims around the world who helped save Jews from the Holocaust. (Forest Hills Ledger, NY)
- U.S. Family Presses Complex Holocaust Claim | Looking at her old home in the exclusive Grunewald neighborhood, which she fled in 1939 at age 6, Barbara Principe said last week that the only thing she could remember was the Christmas tree her father put in a large bay window that jutted out into the front yard. "I don't have enough memory," said the 70-year-old grandmother from Newfield, N.J., the daughter of a German Jew who converted to Christianity. (Washington Post)
Jews for Jesus in Palm Beach:
- Temple forum defends Judaism | Jews should combat Christian proselytization by educating Jewish children in Hebrew school about the New Testament from the Jewish perspective, an interreligious expert said Monday. (Palm Beach Daily News)
- Rabbis combat messianic message | Campaign by Jews for Jesus in Palm Beach generates response to show incompatability with Judaism. (Palm Beach Daily News)
- Jews for Jesus picks Palm Beach County as battleground for conversion | Palm Beach County is the setting of a theological clash. It ignited Dec. 8 when the Jews For Jesus ministry began targeting the area as part of the Behold Your God campaign aimed at hitting 65 areas with 25,000 or more Jews by 2006. (The Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach, Florida)
- Rabbis combat messianic message | Campaign by Jews for Jesus in Palm Beach generates response to show incompatability with Judaism. (Palm Beach Daily News, Florida)
- Messianic Jews prepare to share message | A theological disagreement that began 20 centuries ago in a sultry corner of the world is heating up this month in CityPlace, Mizner Park and other local public gathering places. (Palm Beach Post, Florida)
- Jews for Jesus campaigns on Avenue; rabbis react | A three-member team from the San Francisco-based Jews for Jesus organization was on Worth Avenue Thursday handing out pamphlets, dressed in bright red T-shirts with "Y'shua" — the Hebrew word for "Jesus" — in white during their one-hour stop on the island. (Palm Beach Daily News, Florida)
- Also:Fellowship takes root, but how deep? | Founded in the early 1990s to address intolerance and discrimination on the island, the Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians and Jews quietly marked its 10th anniversary this year. The organization, which is dedicated to "promoting fellowship, understanding and respect among all people of the community," has gone from having a handful of members to a membership of 800 just about evenly divided between Christians and Jews. (Palm Beach Daily News)
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