A Muslim parent is upset over fliers his two elementary school-aged children received advertising an Easter egg hunt in Michigan.
The papers were passed out to students at three Dearborn, Mich., elementary schools, according to the Detroit Free Press. Headlined, “Eggstravaganza!” the fliers announced an April 12 egg hunt, relay race and egg toss at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church.
“It really bothered my two kids,” parent Majed Moughni said of his children, aged 7 and 9. “My son was like, ‘Dad, I really don’t feel comfortable getting these flyers, telling me to go to church. I thought churches are not supposed to mix with schools.’ ”
A 9-year-old understands the concept of church-state separation?
Moughni said he doesn’t agree with “using school teachers paid by public funds … to pass out these flyers that are being distributed by a church.”
“I think that’s a serious violation of separation of church and state,” he told the Free Press.
The pastor at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church didn’t understand what the hubbub was all about. The egg hunt isn’t a religious event, she said, and the flier – decorated with images of eggs and a bunny — was approved by the school district.
“There is not a religious component to this event,” Pastor Neeta Nichols told the newspaper. “Part of our ministry in Dearborn is to invite the community to let them know we’re here. We’re offering various kinds of programming, fun opportunities, so what we can be engaged with the community.”
Others aren’t so sure.
“It would be one thing if this were an Easter egg hunt in an otherwise secular setting,” said Greg Lipper, senior litigation counsel at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “But this invitation was for an Easter egg hunt at a Christian church — and so the event has much clearer religious connotations. Context matters.”
How’s this for context? Ten Muslim students at a Maryland public school last year demanded — and received — time off from studies so they could perform their traditional prayers on school property, according to The Washington Post.
Closer to home, in April 2013, the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations lodged a complaint against the Dearborn School District, saying it didn’t accommodate Muslim students wishing to participate in prayer on school grounds.
The district caved, according to Arab-American News.
Muslims have even demanded — and received — rooms set aside for prayer in Catholic schools, Fox News reported.
If the separation of church and state has any validity, it has to apply to everyone. No one, no matter what his or her religion, can have it both ways.
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