On Tuesday, the Baltimore County school board failed to vote to close schools for Muslim holidays such as Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, when they coincide with a school day.
The dissenting school board members said the schools can only close for secular reasons. Oddly, the schools are closed over Christmas (not a secular holiday) and Easter (also not a secular holiday).
The board says it will continue to study the issue.
In the law, the “secular cultural aspects” of Xmas override the religious, sectarian origins of Christmas when adjudging December 25th to be a legal public (secular) holiday. (Pick a case…any case…but I think the most recent is Ganulin v. United States in 1999.)
One problem with the BCPS is it defines its Spring Break as “Easter Holiday/Spring Break.” While there is definitely “secular cultural aspects” connected to Easter, (PEEPS!), it does not share the secular public holiday status of Xmas. So the BCPS should remove the “Easter Holiday” designation from its schedule to avoid any confusion as to the secular purpose of the 10 day vacation in April every year. (Easter just happens to fall into the Spring Break schedule.)
Informal accommodation may be possible, as the BCPS has already demonstrated, but I think the Muslim community is going to continue to lose on this issue. (As it should.) Maybe in a couple hundred years, when Muslim religious holidays can be connected to distinct “secular cultural aspects” of American society, things might change. But for now, that silly old Establishment Clause is going to, or should anyway, prevent any strictly religious purpose from determining public school closures.
It’s not discrimination when the law prevents the imposition of religious observance on the general public. It’s a fundamental tenet of American religious liberty. That’s why God made private schools.
Ah, but once you’ve opened the door to one religious holiday, you look backward by not extending it to all.
As long as a “religious holiday,” a religious observance, can connect to distinct and recognized secular cultural aspects of American society, it can enjoy the status of a secular holiday, like Xmas.
So sayeth the law. It may be twisted to survive judicial (constitutional) scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean imposing more religious observances upon the general public, especially ones with no such secular cultural connection, is necessary or correct.
I think government made a mistake when they recognized religious holidays in the first place. Now, as we proceed with our now inclusiveness philosophy, this is coming to bite us in the ass. Because in all fairness, we should recognize all holidays relating to nature and God worship or non. And that includes Native Indian and witch covens.
Ya baby, and which toilet will you use? Men’s? women’s? Transgendered? Trans species? I married my cat, Nefertiti and we now have cat kids. They are well behaved and have access to both the bathroom and the liter box. But they have admonished me not to use the litter box because I don’t have feline blood in me.
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