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.