The constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion guarantees that the government will not interfere with the practice of your religion (within limits, human sacrifice is out). It does not guarantee a freedom FROM religion as the ACLU would interpret and it does not guarantee that the government will HELP you practice your religion as many US Muslims demand.
First can you imagine what would happen if our bloated bureaucracy got involved with the practice of religion? There would be a 50 page document produced at a cost of 100 million dollars on the correct way to wear a kippah (for bald guys like me it should be affixed with two sided mounting tape–but I digress).
The other reason why government should stay out of the practice of religion could be seen last week in Britain where the Archbishop of Canterbury got in trouble for saying that it is inevitable that Muslim religious law be integrated into the English “legal system.” That comment didn’t come out of nowhere. Britain had been integrating Muslim religious practice into its society for years with things such as government created and supplied religious foot baths..etc. In a pluralistic society such as England and the US, the secular government should NOT be paying for religious items. After all it is not part of the social contract they have with the tax payers and to be honest..its kind of like gum in grade school, “did you bring for everybody?”
England got into the PC trap of paying for Muslim religious items and it grew from that to the point where the religion is fighting for dominance within the British society. And folks, the country “across the pond” is not far behind.
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How Muslim footbaths threaten America’s social fabric By CAROL IANNONE Wednesday, February 13th 2008, 4:00 AM Be Our Guest There’s an uproar in the U.K. over recent comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury that, given the country’s growing and restive Muslim population, it is “unavoidable” that certain aspects of Islamic law would, at some point, have to be accepted in Britain. What many Americans do not realize is that there’s a concerted effort by some in the American Muslim community to move slowly in a similar direction right here in the United States. While this effort is not necessarily about Sharia law, it is an attempt by some Muslim Americans to force the rest of us to enable their cultural and religious practices in the public sphere. Instead, they should be assimilating and abiding by general U.S. norms. One of the front lines of this fight: footbaths. Growing numbers of Muslims living in the United States are seeking to wash their feet in the sinks of public rest rooms. The foot-washing is part of wudu, the ritual ablutions a Muslim performs before the five prayer sessions he or she observes every day at intervals from morning till night. The ablutions can take several minutes and involve repeated washing or rinsing of the hands, mouth, nostrils, face, arms, forehead, hair, ears and, finally, the feet. There is nothing wrong with a devout Muslim seeing it as his religious duty to wash his feet. I take no issue with the practice whatsoever. But I do not accept the notion that large, primarily secular institutions – or society as a whole – should invest time and money building facilities expressly to make it easy for people to perform the ritual. Yet that is precisely what is happening. Not surprisingly, it is universities – bastions of open-ended tolerance – that are on the leading edge of the trend. Last year, it was reported that the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where more than 10% of students are Muslim, announced it would install $25,000 foot-washing stations in a number of rest rooms. In contemplating this, the school was following in the footsteps of other institutions including Stanford University, the University of Houston, Boston University, St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota at Duluth. Indeed, right here in New York, NYU is considering installing footbaths in the Islamic section of its planned interfaith center. Somehow, the American Civil Liberties Union – normally given to howls of execration at the mere thought of a creche in any semipublic place at Christmastime – is not challenging any of this. Why? Because, it says, it’s not a matter of religion but of “cleanliness and safety.” Foot-washing in regular sinks can be a messy business. It can also be off-putting for non-Muslims who must use the sinks and rest rooms for ordinary purposes. But the question of whether footbaths improve cleanliness and safety is beside the point. What is at issue is the extent of public accommodation of religion. And furthermore, while the Council on American-Islamic Relations is specifically recommending that Muslims perform their ablutions in rest room sinks, it turns out that elaborate foot-washing at every prayer time isn’t even required under Muslim law. Indeed, a perusal of Islamic Web sites reveals some flexibility regarding the washing – for example, simply wiping over the sock is sufficient, rather than soaking the bare foot. But this seems not to matter to those who want to thrust Islamic practices into the public sphere or to the politically correct officials who refuse to draw the line. Foot-washing done in public places, whether in sinks or footbaths, sets Muslims apart from larger society. Rather than facilitating that, we should ask members of the American Muslim community to adapt their behavior to the country in which they live. Iannone is editor at large of Academic Questions, the journal of the National Association of Scholars. The opinions expressed here are entirely her own.