During the history course at Excelsior School in the fall of 2001, the teacher, using an instructional guide, told the students they would adopt roles as Muslims for three weeks to help them learn what Muslims believe.Isn't White correct? If he is, should we think that the school is more respectful of Islam or more respectful of Christianity? One might contend that the school is more hostile to the religion it would never make the students pretend to exercise, because of the exclusion, but I think the opposite is true. The role-playing seems acceptable to the teachers when they conceive of the religion as a manifestation of a culture and not really a religion at all. If you wouldn't do an exercise like this for all the religions, you shouldn't do it for any of them. Asking children to say prayers that they do not believe could be very offensive to those who actually believe the religion. And finding out that the school made your child recite prayers other than yours is infuriating.
She encouraged them to use Muslim names, recited prayers in class and made them give up something for a day, such as television or candy, to simulate fasting during Ramadan. The final exam asked students for a critique of elements of Muslim culture.
U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled in favor of the school district in 2003, saying that the class had an instructional purpose and that students had engaged in no actual religious exercises.
The appeals court upheld her ruling Thursday in a three-paragraph decision that was not published as a precedent for future cases...
Edward White of the Thomas More Center, the attorney in the case for the two children and their parents, said he will ask the full appeals court for a rehearing. He said the panel failed to address his argument that the district violated parents' rights.
"What happened in this classroom was clearly an endorsement of religion and indoctrination of children in the Islamic religion, which would never have stood if it were a class on Christianity or Judaism,'' White said.
November 19, 2005
The Ninth Circuit rejected the Establishment Clause claim: