Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Islam in the Public Schools Part 4--Endorsement of Islam

Ok, this is the final installment in my humble analysis of Eklund v. Byron Union School District, a decision in which the court ruled that it was permissible for California schools to use an "interactive educational module" to teach seventh graders about Islam. In the first three installments we reviewed the facts of the case and the first prong of a two-prong analysis the court did regarding the possible violation of the Establishment Clause. The court concluded, in the first section of its analysis, that the Eklund children were not "coerced into participating in religious activity" because, in the court's view, learning portions of the Koran, reciting portions of muslim prayers, doing symbolic fasting to simulate Ramadan, etc. did not rise to the level of actually participating in religious activity. See Part 3, below, for the complete discussion.

Today, the court turns to the second prong of its analysis...Did the Excelsior School "endorse" Islam through its use of the module? Again, the court concludes that, from the objective standpoint of a reasonable observer (a hypothetical "reasonable" seventh grader at Excelsior) and the "larger context of the challenged activity" that endorsement did not occur.

I have to say that there is very little to analyze regarding the court's findings in this regard. Rather than applying the legal standards at issue to the specific facts of the module (for instance the documented admission by the teacher that the students were required to learn portions of muslim prayers, or the fact that the module repeatedly stated that Muhammad was a prophet of Allah and received special revelation from God, without any qualifying language whatsoever) The court simply states that "a reasonable Excelsior student would not have believed that it [the module] represented an endorsement of religion..." (brackets supplied). The sum total of the legal reasoning applied to this aspect of the Establishment Clause analysis is about half a page of a 22 page opinion.

Again, the judge's conclusion is unsupported by the facts...she never makes mention at all of the fact that the final exam was required to be a "critique" of Islam so long as the student didn't say anything negative, that elements of Islam were presented as "truth," or that the student guide handed out to the students stated that "you and your classmates will become Muslims."

This is intellectual dishonesty and judicial activism at its worst...The ACLU and organizations like it are using the willing accomplices of the federal bench to do their dirtywork.

Just for the record, for those of you who don't think that the "compromise" agreed to by the Senate Republicans on GWB's judicial nominees is a big deal, for instance Beth at My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, remember that judges like Phyllis Hamilton are what you are going to get every time you concede a point to the liberals.

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