Tuesday, August 21, 2007

the aclu and foot baths

In 2005 the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued a Christian football coach who prayed before games, calling it "inherently coercive."

The same chapter now supports Michigan schools installing Muslim footbaths in the restrooms. They insist it's not coercive and doesn't endorse Islam because anyone could use the footbaths. Despite the protests of the Wall Street Journal, I have to say it seems reasonable to me. This is an accommodation of people's religion, rather than publicly drawing other people into religious observances.

If it were more overtly religious, like a Muslim judge posting the Decalogue in his courtroom, I expect the reaction would be the same as if a Christian judge had done it. The ACLU would claim it was a violation of the separation of church and state.

What, you don't think the ACLU has it in for Christians and Christianity, do you?

Despite the popular Chicken Little thinking I've seen in evangelical circles, the sky is not falling. The prevailing influences on our society remain Judeo-Christian, from our literature to our lexicon. I've yet to see any evidence that it is inimcal to the national good to extend a little courtesy to minority religions such as Islam.

I know of one case off the top of my head in New Jersey a few years ago where the ACLU came to the defense of a church organization when it was barred from renting a municipally owned building that had been rented to other nonreligious organizations. The Princeton Borough goverment had rejected the application to rent the space on an errorneous leading of the Establishment Clause; the ACLU pointed out that renting space to some groups and denying it to others based on their religious nature is discriminatory in nature. That's not exactly anti-Christian, is it?

Paranoid thinking is inexcusable when it comes from healthy adults who should know better but choose not to. Culture war mentality is counterproductive, creating as it does tremendous chips on our shoulders and the accompanying hosility toward those we have prejudged to be against us. Do that enough and people who have no problem with us will find one.

No comments: