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Apr 08 2014

Christian Fliers Distributed in Dearborn

Dearborn is a predominantly Muslim city outside Detroit and some parents there are upset that a local church was allowed to distribute a flier for an Easter celebration for kids, calling it a violation of the separation of church and state.

A flyer headlined “Eggstravaganza!” was given to students this week at three elementary schools in the Dearborn Public Schools district, which has a substantial number of Muslim students. The flyer described an April 12 event at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn featuring an egg hunt, relay race, and egg toss. It asked students to RSVP “to secure your free spot” and included images of eggs and a bunny.

“It really bothered my two kids,” said parent Majed Moughni, who is Muslim and has two children, ages 7 and 9, in Dearborn elementary schools. “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.’ ”

Moughni said he’s concerned about “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.”

Whether that’s true or not depends on the district’s policy on flier distribution. If they allow outside community groups to submit fliers for distribution, they can’t discriminate against religious groups. And the Muslim/Christian divide has nothing to do with it. But the church’s statement on this is simply laughable:

The pastor of Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church defended the flyer, saying it was approved for distribution by Dearborn Public Schools and is not promoting a religious event.

“It’s designed to be an opportunity to invite the community to come for a day of activity,” said Pastor Neeta Nichols of Cherry Hill. “There is not a religious component to this event.”

“Part of our ministry in Dearborn is to invite the community to let them know we’re here,” she added. “We’re offering various kinds of programming, fun opportunities, so what we can be engaged with the community.”

One of the things I find very amusing is how casually some Christians will lie about this sort of thing and jettison their religious beliefs out of political convenience. We see it when they claim that the Ten Commandments aren’t really religious, only historical. Or when Jessica Ahlquist’s school claimed in court that the prayer mural wasn’t religious, even though it began with “our heavenly father” and ended with “amen.” This is “ceremonial deism” taken to its obvious conclusion. Of course it’s a religious event, it’s an Easter celebration at a church, for crying out loud. And you only make yourself sound stupid and dishonest when you claim otherwise.

I should note that there have been problems in Dearborn in the past with Muslim proselytizing in the schools. I did a series of stories a few years ago about a wrestling coach who was fired there over allegations that he baptised a Muslim student there. And it was true, but that is totally irrelevant. In fact, the student was his son’s best friend. He went to a Christian retreat with the permission of his guardians, converted to Christianity and was baptised. All of this happened in the summer and had nothing to do with the school. But when they got back to school, the Muslim principal called the student in to his office and berated him. It was the principal who violated the law, not the wrestling coach.

16 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    Sounds like false advertising. The egg and bunny are symbols of Eostre, the celtic fertility goddess, whose holiday is coming up soon. Usually it amounted to a drunken piss-up culminating in dancing and sex. I’d be pretty pissed if I was invited to one of those and it turned out to be a bunch of zombie jew worship. What a rip!

  2. 2
    matty1

    Usually it amounted to a drunken piss-up culminating in dancing and sex.

    What festival doesn’t?

  3. 3
    eric

    It’s designed to be an opportunity to invite the community to come for a day of activity,” said Pastor Neeta Nichols of Cherry Hill. “There is not a religious component to this event.”

    Easy enough to show the pastor is lying. The local Imam should invite the pastor to joint-plan a community day of activity at the mosque next year on easter weekend. Watch the pastor flail around for an excuse not to.

  4. 4
    moarscienceplz

    Of course it’s a religious event, it’s an Easter celebration at a church, for crying out loud.

    Ehhh, I’m kind of on the fence on this one. Bunnies and eggs aren’t Christian symbols, they are pagan. And “at a church” is rather context-dependent. Will this event be held in the church sanctuary? I doubt it. I would expect it would be held either outdoors on the church grounds, or in a fellowship hall. So attending this party would be a far cry from attending a church service.
    Where I live in the SF Bay area, mosques, temples, and non-mainstream churches often have open houses where non-believers are invited to come eat traditional foods and get to know the people and what they do. I would think this bunny and eggs party is more along those lines than an attempt at proselytizing.

    It probably was a bad idea to pass out the flyers actually in the school, but beyond that, I don’t see this as a big deal, and I am an atheist.

  5. 5
    raven

    Oh gee, it is almost time for the War on Easter. Seems like we just finished the War on the War on Xmas.

    I had to look it up. Easter this year is April 20th.

    I’m getting bored with these Wars on Holidays. We will probably just celebrate the Spring and fertility holiday this year and leave the War part for others.

    Next one is the War on Halloween.

  6. 6
    rabbitscribe

    “Dearborn is a predominantly Muslim city outside Detroit…

    No, it isn’t.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dearborn,_MI#Arab_Americans

    A little over 40% are Arabs, and they’re mostly descendants of Lebanese Christians. I realize plenty of the loons you are kind enough to read so we don’t have to tout Dearborn as the Sharia capital of America. They can’t be trusted about anything.

  7. 7
    eric

    Next one is the War on Halloween.

    Which makes me curious as to why the summer solstice got such a raw religious deal. Okay, so maybe 4th of July serves as our current proxy for that, but its kind of historically interesting how the religious ceremonies around the two equinoxes and the winter solstice were so culturally strong that new religions had to adopt them, but a ceremonial marking of the longest day got kind of left by the wayside.

  8. 8
    otrame

    @7

    I think if western culture centered down here in south Texas, you would find it was Winter Solstice that got neglected. Winter is a relatively easy time of year here. It’s summer you have to get prepared for, survive, and celebrate the end of, even these days with running water in the house and air conditioners.

  9. 9
    Raging Bee

    “Part of our ministry in Dearborn is to invite the community to let them know we’re here,” she added.

    Damn kids and their short attention spans — you gotta keep the One True Religion in their faces 24/7, otherwise they’ll forget it exists.

  10. 10
    naturalcynic

    <blockquoteWhich makes me curious as to why the summer solstice got such a raw religious deal. Okay, so maybe 4th of July serves as our current proxy for that, but its kind of historically interesting how the religious ceremonies around the two equinoxes and the winter solstice were so culturally strong that new religions had to adopt them, but a ceremonial marking of the longest day got kind of left by the wayside. Good ol’ Murrikan ethnocentrism shows up again. The solstice is celebrated traditionally as a feast of St. John and is a major holiday in Northern European countries [and Seattle].

  11. 11
    naturalcynic

    BQ fail

    Which makes me curious as to why the summer solstice got such a raw religious deal. Okay, so maybe 4th of July serves as our current proxy for that, but its kind of historically interesting how the religious ceremonies around the two equinoxes and the winter solstice were so culturally strong that new religions had to adopt them, but a ceremonial marking of the longest day got kind of left by the wayside.

    I just blame it on this iMac I’m using now

  12. 12
    Kevin Kehres

    I thought the longest day of the rear was when we had the baby roasts.

  13. 13
    freehand

    raven: Next one is the War on Halloween.
    .
    Don’t forget that we’re the defending team on that one. Don’t score an own goal again (I heard about last year. Of course, that doesn’t compare to the year when Santa and I got drunk and tried to enter a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall to confess our sins.)

  14. 14
    felidae

    There two Dearborns: the east side where the Muslims live and the west where the upper middle class Christian white folks live with Cherry Hill Road being the traditional Dividing line–just a guess, but I think Cherry Hill Church is in the west

  15. 15
    Erp

    I did some checking and I’m actually inclined to think the church is intending this for an open house mostly secular type event rather than covert evangelism. First the church is Presbyterian Church (USA) which is mainline and so a bit less likely to pull those sorts of stunts (and it can’t be too conservative, all the ministers are women). Second the event takes place on the Saturday before Palm Sunday and a week before Easter which is just odd; the church observes Lent which usually means cut down on the frivolity. They also seem to have an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday after the service but that is aimed at the church attenders (Easter services tend to attract the twice a year attenders so that Easter Egg hunt is probably meant to say to those that their children can have fun and be out of your hair while you attend church[1]).

    [1] This can backfire. Some churches apparently have problems with parents dropping their kids off for free Sunday school/Sunday daycare for a few hours while the parents go off for a leisurely Sunday brunch (very problematic in that if something happens the parents can’t be reached).

  16. 16
    kimberlyherbert

    We get these at my school, also. My understanding is if we let the public library distribute fliers about the summer reading program, we have to allow pretty much any group to have access. All outside fliers come with a disclaimer that says something like District Name does not endorse or sponsor (Event). Which cracks me up when it is under the summer reading program flier.

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