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Letting Freedom Ring

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crosses Ire Muslims at Catholic University

Sooner or later, Americans will have to cross that threshold when they say, “Enough is enough!” to political correctness.  The latest PC absurdity involves Muslim students at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.  They insist on being allowed to perform their Islamic rites in rooms devoid of Christian symbols.

The case was referred to the Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights, which is seriously investigating charges that Catholic University has violated the Muslim students’ human rights by not allowing them to form an Islamic student group and not providing them a Christian-free room for their daily prayers.

This ranks right up there with legally-mandated warnings that McDonald’s coffee is hot, Spanish-signs warning that you can get killed by a train walking on the train tracks, and cautionary signs that you shouldn’t go into the lion’s den
The 60-page complaint alleges that Muslim students “must perform their prayers surrounded by symbols of Catholicism – e.g., a wooden crucifix, paintings of Jesus, pictures of priests and theologians which many Muslim students find inappropriate.”

According to Fox News:  “The complaint was filed by John Banzhaf, an attorney and professor at George Washington University Law School.  Banzhaf has been involved in previous litigation against the school involving the same-sex residence halls. He also alleged in his complaint involving Muslim students that women at the university were being discriminated against.

“Banzhaf said some Muslim students were particularly offended because they had to meditate in the school’s chapels “and at the cathedral that looms over the entire campus – the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.”

“It shouldn’t be too difficult somewhere on the campus for the university to set aside a small room where Muslims can pray without having to stare up and be looked down upon by a cross of Jesus,” he told Fox News.

In a 2010 interview with National Public Radio, university president John Garvey acknowledged that they don’t set aside prayer rooms for Muslim students.

“We make classrooms available, or our chapels are places where they can pray,” he told NPR. “We don’t offer Halal meat, although there are always meals that conform to Halal regulations, that allow students to do what they want.”

Banzhaf admits that it is technically not illegal for Catholic University to refuse to provide rooms devoid of religious icons.  But he suggests the school is “acting improperly and probably with malice,” he said. “The students do have to pray five times a day, they have to look around for empty classrooms and to be sitting there trying to do Muslim prayers with a big cross looking down or a picture of Jesus or a picture of the Pope  is not very conductive to their religion.”
As for the creation of a Muslim student group, Banzhaf said the university has an association of Jewish students – so why not a Muslim group?

“I think they are entitled as a matter of law to be able to form a Muslim student association and to have the same privileges as other associations,” he said. “I think most of them would much prefer to have a place to pray – that they are not surrounded by various Catholic symbols – a place that is more conductive to their religious beliefs than being surrounded by pictures of Popes.”

Patrick Reilly, the president of the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization that promotes Catholic identity among Catholic schools, seemed stunned by the complaint.

“’I don’t know what the attorney wants them to do – if he wants them to actually move the Basilica or if the Muslim students can find someplace where they don’t have to look at it,” he told Fox News.  Catholic University, he said, is a Catholic institution.

“’One wouldn’t expect a Jewish institution to be responsible for providing liturgical opportunities for other faiths and I wouldn’t expect a Catholic institution to do that,’ he said.

“’This attorney is really turning civil rights on its head,” he said. “He’s using the law for his own discrimination against the Catholic institution and essentially saying Catholic University cannot operate according to Catholic principles.’”

Theological students studying at another faith’s educational institutions is not unheard of.  They must, however, respect that religion’s dictates, or at least not be offended by their icons or theology; that tolerance is part of the educational experience.  The Muslim students are old enough to know they were attending a Christian – a Catholic - school, and should be given no brook for their frivolous, and probably pernicious, charge.  If they’re offended by the sight of Jesus on the cross, then they should leave.  Catholic University should not be help culpable for their intolerance or lack of judgment in selection a college nor should the university be expected to accommodate the Muslim students to such an extent that they betray their own faith.

The attorney admits the school has done nothing illegal.  He is testing the school’s walls for weakness and the government’s willingness to subject a private, religious institution to its invasive minority mandates.  The Muslim students are trying to create a legal hole in Catholic University in which they can propagate their own religion and undermine the tenets of the Catholic religion and Constitutional law.

Catholic University should not remove a single cross or papal picture.  Their first obligation is to Jesus Christ, not the U.S. government. 


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