Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What the Court Didn't Hear

The Supreme Court today declined to hear a case in which Christian parents of seventh graders in a school in Contra Costa, CA, claimed that a three-week course in Muslim culture, taught in the Fall of 2001, was tantamount to teaching religion. (Good timing or bad; let your personal Fall 2001 politics decide.)

This must be one of the few times that Christians have used the Separation of Church and State doctrine this way. Usually, it’s the atheists complaining about Christians and school prayer, religious groups meeting on school property or using public resources, etc. Oh, I have no objection to this. I think it’s good for Christians to familiarize themselves with the Constitution whenever possible. Maybe then they’ll begin to realize that it is designed to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority (or the tyranny of the word police).

The teacher responsible for teaching students Muslim culture had a three week set of lessons that included giving up candy or TV for a day to simulate fasting during Ramadan, asking them to use Muslim names, and asking them to recite prayers they had been asked to learn. This teacher did well, as far as I can see, to teach so interesting a class. She also fairly well simulated the way Arab Muslim children traditionally acquired language skills: by reciting the Quran. Yeshiva kids learn Hebrew similarly. Seems to me if you’re attempting to teach 7th graders “culture”, then this is the way to do it. Some would spitefully argue that the teacher omitted the part where Muslim kids learn terrorist tactics. Well, you can take your spite and stuff it.

The more kids learn, the better off they are, even if they come to conclude that those “other” people are wrong or stupid for believing what they believe. What Christians can’t tolerate is that anyone would believe that Christian beliefs are inferior. They do not apparently want to put this to the test, do they? Obviously they’re worried about that assumption or they wouldn’t care what other religious opinions were conveyed in schools. I can argue the same point for Muslims, who are often quite intolerant of other religions, and would never sanction their teaching in “public” schools in Saudi Arabia, or in the Middle East, in general. Let’s arm wrestle for who’s superior.


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