A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

April 19, 2007

Public Schools Embrace Islam?

In 1962 the New York State Regents passed a policy to “combat the decline of morals in public life” that called for “moral and spiritual training” as a part of the school day. The Regents introduced a generic prayer to be said by students in the public school as a part of the morning activities. The prayer recites: “

Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.”

This prayer drew criticism from the ACLU, and was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1963 by a 7-1 ruling. Personally, I agree with the ruling, as it was in my opinion unduly entangling the secular with the relgious world. On the other hand, here we are many years later with this “generic” prayer ditched and on the verge of being replaced with Muslim prayers.

New York City is about to open a new taxpayer funded “Arabic themed” school in Brooklyn. Khalil Gibran International Academy will be led by Debbie Almontaser a Muslim of Yemeni background. “It is a school that is going to be working quite hard in building bridges of understanding, tolerance and acceptance, valuing diversity and truly just developing students into global citizens,” says Almontaser. While some of this sounds good, this school will go a good deal further than those arguably, altruistic goals.

The New York City school’s goal is to focus on Arabic aka Islamic themes in education and eventually to teach half of the classes in the Arabic language. Isn’t it interesting that just recently Oxford University in London, England decided not to teach certain subjects like the Holocaust or the Crusades in the school’s history classes because they might offend some of the Muslim students. Yet, in America tax payers are at the very least facilitating a religion.

A valid question that many have asked if the Muslim religion could be separated from the school. In response to that question Almonstaser said,

“Being that we are a public school, we certainly are not going to be teaching religion.”

Maybe not but they will be facilitating it. I also wonder if the Islamic mandates of prayer, not voluntary mind you, will be enforced or will be disallowed. Will accomodations be made during Ramadan. All of these sound precariously close to an “undue entanglement” of the state with a “particular religion”, and all of this would be unconstitutional.

In Lemon v Kurtzman,403 U.S. 602 (1971) the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Pennsylvania’s 1968 Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which allowed the state Superintendent of Public Instruction to reimburse nonpublic schools (most of which were Catholic) for teachers’ salaries, textbooks and instructional materials, violated the Establishment clause of the First Amendment. The decision also upheld a decision of the First Circuit, which had struck down the Rhode Island Salary Supplement Act providing state funds to supplement salaries at nonpublic elementary schools by 15%. As in Pennsylvania, most of these funds were spent on Catholic schools. The following guidelines were established, and these are the Law of the US.

1. The government’s action must have a legitimate secular purpose;
2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive entanglement” with religion.

On the face this school would seem to be in patent violation of the third and possibly the third prong of “The Lemon Test”.

There are other instances of the state becoming “excessively entangled” in facilitating Islamic needs. Consider the policy of Minneapolis Community Colleges. The colleges have installed facilities to enable Muslim students to perform ritual feet washing before daily prayers at the college. Muslims are required to pray five times a day but must first wash their feet. According to President Phil Davis the school is simply extending “hospitality” to their newcomers. However, are such “hospitable” extentions afforded to Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or other practitioners of a relgious faith. This practice would seem to be in violation of all prongs of the lemon test.

The question is why are public institution policies so correctly careful to not estabish or facilitate Christianity and Judaism, but are bending over backwards for Islam. I make no secret that I am a practioner of Christianity, however, I am not thrilled with public dollars being spent facilitating and advancing any religion unless there is a clear and legitimate secular purpose being served. These two instances don’t come close to meeting that standard.



  1. I wonder if “bridges of understanding, tolerance and acceptance, valuing diversity and truly just developing students into global citizens” would include accepting criticism & apostasy.

    On another random thought, I’ve been thinking that the reason Christianity is always ridiculed and attacked is that Christianity is the real deal. The devil is working hard.

    Blessed are you when they persecute you; for in this life, you will have tribulations…

    p.s. Good writing!

    Comment by E. I. Sanchez — April 19, 2007 @ 1:23 am | Reply

  2. I would truly welcome a public school that allowed for diversity and to have criticism and constructive engagement of religious views. This would actually serve a secular purpose as it would bring about understanding and hopefully tolerance of differing views in a sane and refereed setting.

    It would be a truly wonderful educational setting. One of the positive things about almost all world religions is the emphasis – in theory – they have towards young people and education. What a fantastic environment spiritually and intellectually for young learner.

    Atheists would be welcomed too! As the loyal opposition!

    Comment by avoiceofreason — April 19, 2007 @ 1:41 am | Reply

  3. If we have a Muslim based public school, why not have a Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist etc. schools. We all pay taxes why not have schools based on all of New York’s citizens religions! Or if we can have Arab public schools that the classes are taught in 50% in the Arab language then we can have Italian, Irish, German,Chinese, Japanese, Mexician, Spanish etc. all taught in their specific languages. Could you imagine the chaos and expense to taxpayers this would cause? Khalil Gibran International Academy is supposed to teach culture not religion, well o
    ther religions also have cultures that can be taught. This is their way to get around separation of religion and state. If a Muslim school is needed in the community then it should be where the children that are attending pay a tuition like the other Religion based schools in the NYC area. Oh by the way Board of Education – these schools are called Private Schools. Stop wasting our money!!!!

    Comment by Mary Figuccio — August 11, 2007 @ 10:21 pm | Reply

  4. global warming is becoming such a obvious problem that someone somewhere other than Al Gore needs to step up to help drive the bus!

    Comment by global warming — August 19, 2007 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

  5. You have the natural advantage in creditor debt settlement usa , which may be appropriate for debtors with …
    Great Solution

    Comment by Valerusd — December 1, 2007 @ 10:17 am | Reply

  6. It seems that schools are willing to cater for any religion except the majority one for the country, if you thave a christian or catholic school today you are scorned for not catering to the needs of the minorities, but if you decide on a muslim or other religious school that fine. What an upside world we live in.

    Comment by Rotary — March 6, 2008 @ 9:54 am | Reply

  7. Good post but I was wanting to know if you could write a litte
    more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Cheers!

    Comment by Rouble Narine — October 5, 2012 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

  8. Can I just say what a comfort to find someone that truly knows what they’re talking about on the web. You certainly realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people have to check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you aren’t more popular given that
    you certainly have the gift.

    Comment by Irvin — March 11, 2013 @ 10:50 pm | Reply

  9. Whats up! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up for the good information you’ve got right here on this post.
    I can be coming back to your weblog for extra soon.

    Comment by mcgraw-hill 36 hour course in finance for nonfinancial managers — April 25, 2013 @ 7:58 am | Reply

  10. Wonderful website. A lot of useful information here.
    I am sending it to some pals ans additionally sharing in delicious.
    And certainly, thanks on your sweat!

    Comment by dictionary word origins — May 6, 2013 @ 11:54 pm | Reply

  11. I drop a leave a response when I like a post on a website or if I have something to contribute to the discussion.
    It is triggered by the passion communicated in the article I looked at.
    And on this post Public Schools Embrace Islam?
    | A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World.
    I was moved enough to drop a comment 🙂 I actually do have some
    questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be simply me or does it seem like a few of these remarks come across like coming from brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are writing on other online social sites, I’d like to follow you.
    Would you make a list all of your social pages like
    your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

    Comment by Amy — May 17, 2013 @ 9:22 am | Reply

  12. Hello! I simply would like to give an enormous
    thumbs up for the great info you’ve gotten here on this post.
    I might be coming again to your blog for more soon.

    Comment by autozone employment login — June 9, 2013 @ 6:12 am | Reply

  13. I got this web page from my friend who informed me on the topic of this site and now this time I am visiting this web page and reading very
    informative articles or reviews at this time.

    Comment by Esther — June 23, 2013 @ 4:49 am | Reply

  14. Hello! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great
    data youve here on this post. I can be coming again to your blog for more soon.

    Comment by Anonymous — July 31, 2013 @ 2:50 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: