Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dearborn Schools and Religious Accomodation

Dearborn resident and mother, J.S. sends the following comment:

I have children in the Dearborn Public Schools and am concerned over the blurring of understanding between culture and religion. I have had meetings with folks in the central offices when I was told in my elementary school not to say "Merry Christmas," but then my child brought home a Ramadan lesson! When I approached the administration, they said that we need to be sensitive to others' culture. I have no problem with sensitivity to culture, but Ramadan and its associated accommodations are religious, not cultural. I had to explain the difference. I also see Halal food as a religious accommodation, as well as physical education restrictions.

When I send my children to school, I am sending them to an American Public School. As a result, I don't expect any accommodations be made for my own faith. Otherwise, I would send them to a private religious school. There are so many different expressions of faith, such as lighting of novena candles, Buddhist chanting, Christian evangelizing, etc. that would not and should not be practiced in the schools. I am concerned that in the Dearborn Public Schools, one religion is allowed to bring its practices into classrooms and lunchrooms. Should one religion be allowed to express itself publicly, while others must do so privately? Are public schools the place for private religion?

Dearborn, Michigan

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