Tags: School Prayer | Muslim Prayer in Schools | Debate | National News | Religion

Muslim Prayer in Public Schools: 4 Times Debate Has Made National News

By    |   Wednesday, 25 March 2015 11:50 AM

The Islamic religion requires daily prayers during certain times of the day. Public school officials have had to grapple with ways to allow Muslim prayer in schools without breaking state laws.

These four examples resulted in national headlines in the debate over separation of religion and education because of Islamic issues:

1. Tension surfaced at Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland when several Muslim students began praying in class. Some Christian teachers became offended and told students they were in a "Christian school," Principal Cheryl J. Logan told The Washington Post in 2013.

ALERT: Should Prayer Be Allowed in Public Schools? Vote Now

Since public schools generally separate religion from education, some state laws allow accommodations for certain religious practices. Logan came up with a plan to allow Muslim students who attain certain grades to leave class for about eight minutes each day and pray together on school grounds.

The arrangement prevented further conflict and would appear "permissible" under the U.S. Constitution, Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum, told the Post. Haynes added that state laws vary. School districts that allow accommodations for one religion would have to allow similar arrangements for another religion, "one of the problems with accommodation," he said.

2. Questionable accommodations for Muslim prayer in schools became an issue in Longwood, Florida in 2015 when a parent complained about students reciting Islamic prayers and making an Islamic prayer rug during a history class.

The father told the Seminole County school board his 15-year-old son had been told to participate in the religious practices. State education officials reviewed the case and found that it was part of the world history class on Islam. The prayer rug had been an art assignment, but the school district later advised a different type of art project for the class to avoid controversy, according to Politifact.

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3. The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) negotiated a deal with the Dearborn school board to give Muslim students "prayer accommodations" in 2013. Student-led prayer and leaving early on Friday for Jumu'ah prayers were allowed in all the city's public schools, according to The Christian Post.

Earlier, the Islamic organization had criticized a nearby Detroit area school district when teachers gave permission slips to elementary school students for Bible study classes.

"School staff and teachers are not to serve as advocates for one particular religion or congregation within a religion by passing out slips inviting parents to give permission for their children to attend religious instruction," CAIR Executive Director Dawus Walid stated in a news release.

4. Florida school officials in Brevard County faced opposition in 2013 when they included a Prentice World History textbook for ninth grade students that declared Muhammad as the "Messenger of God."

The textbook also mentioned that Jihad was a "holy war to defend Islam and the Muslim community," comparing it to the Crusades of Christianity, according to Todd Starnes of Fox News. Although the book contained an entire chapter on Islam with only references to Christianity and Judaism in other sections, school officials defended the book as having a balanced view of the religions.

URGENT: Should Students Be Allowed to Pray in Public Schools? Vote Here Now!

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The Islamic religion requires daily prayers during certain times of the day. Public school officials have had to grapple with ways to allow Muslim prayer in schools without breaking state laws.
Muslim Prayer in Schools, Debate, National News, Religion
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 11:50 AM
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