Advancing Religious Liberty
9/23/10 at 02:50 PM 0 Comments

Double Standard? Students Learn about Islam During Mosque Field Trip

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Author: ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster

The ACLU needs a refresher course in our First Amendment. A recent field trip in Massachusetts and the Enfield Public School graduation controversy provides a good teaching example for us to use.

In Connecticut, the Enfield Public Schools decided to hold their graduation ceremony at a church auditorium as the facility was very large, comfortable, and would provide a very pleasant atmosphere for the occasion. The nice amenities of this church were in stark contrast to the typical hardness of bleachers in school gyms.

But then the ACLU came into the picture. It did not matter to the ACLU that many family members would have to miss the graduation ceremony if the event were held at a smaller school gym. It was of no concern to them, being an outside group, that the few family members who would be able to view the event would be far more uncomfortable in the metal bleachers. None of this mattered to them.

What did matter to this special interest group is that the Enfield School District was planning on holding the event at a church auditorium, and this ran counter to the ACLU’s left-wing vision for America. According to the ACLU, Christian beliefs are poisen pills that will kill any governmental decision that is supported by Christians.  And so they sued and blocked the graduation ceremonies at the church.

But compared to what happened in Massachusetts, holding a graduation ceremony at a church auditorium seems a little trivial. A public middle school in Massachusetts recently took its children on a field trip to a mosque. This alone should have ruffled the feathers of the ACLU, but apparently opposing Islam does not fit within the ACLU’s agenda.

But the trip gets much, much worse. During this trip, the students were taught about Muhammad, a prophet in the Islamic faith. The students were told, “You have to believe in Allah, and Allah is the one God, the only one worthy or worship, all forgiving, all merciful.”

Are you offended yet? It gets worse.

During the visit, the mosque officials then separated the group by gender. The male students were lead to the prayer service where they joined in the traditional Muslim prayers. This video shows the boys prostrating themselves on the ground in prayer.

So let me see if I can understand the left’s agenda. Holding a secular graduation ceremony in a comfortable church auditorium is unconstitutional because of the mere fact the students have to physically be in a church building.

But taking public school kids to a mosque, teaching them about Islam, telling them they have to obey Allah, and then leading the boys in a prayer service is just “learning about a culture?” Talk about a double standard.

These two events demonstrate what the First Amendment is supposed to protect against and what was never meant to be prohibited. On the one hand, holding a graduation ceremony at a church auditorium does not force anyone to believe. It does not require anyone to participate in a religious exercise or activity. It was never meant to be prohibited by our Constitution.

But taking a field trip to a mosque where the students were instructed that they have to believe in a certain deity is a whole other matter. Splitting the kids up and taking the boys to participate in Muslim prayers crosses the Constitutional line.

This post originally appeared here.

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