ND House Cancels Muslim Invocation

And yet another example of the undeniable fact that when the Christian right demands “religious freedom” what they really want is Christian privilege. A Muslim was invited to give the invocation before the North Dakota House of Representatives this week but it was canceled at the last minute. And you’re going to love the reason why:

Republican leaders in the North Dakota House of Representatives said they canceled the opening prayer by a Muslim on Ash Wednesday because some members thought it was more appropriate to have a Christian deliver the invocation.

Dr. Nadim Koleilat, board president of the Bismarck Muslim Community Center, ended up giving the invocation in the Senate instead of the House.

Comments made on the District 24 Republicans’ Facebook page – including one posted Monday that called Koleilat’s planned appearances in the House on Wednesday and in the Senate next week “political correctness at its worst” – were brought to House members’ attention Wednesday morning by a district resident who urged lawmakers to “oppose the prejudice, intolerance and ignorance that is encompassed within these posts.”

District 24 Rep. Dwight Kiefert, R-Valley City, was among those who objected to having a non-Christian deliver the prayer on Ash Wednesday.

“I mean, you had representatives on the floor with ash on their foreheads commemorating the day. And so then you’re going to force them to listen to a prayer that they don’t agree with? It wasn’t very well thought out, I don’t think,” he said.

Funny, when non-Christians say that they shouldn’t be forced to listen to a prayer they don’t agree with, people like Kiefert find it unimaginable that anyone would make such a stupid argument. Because it isn’t about religious freedom, it’s about Christian privilege. The nerve of someone other than a Christian thinking they should be given access to the same forum that Christians use to force others to sit through their religious exercises — and to do so while people are busy being Christian to boot! Inconceivable!

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  • Artor

    I’m not surprised by the blatant bullshit anymore. I’ve gone through so many irony meters, all I have is a pile of dust that twitches in interesting patterns, like iron filings on a magnet.

  • http://dharmaubuntu.wordpress.com/ Aspect Sign

    I don’t know, while I would prefer no prayers at government functions, if they are having them I can’t say I have an issue with them wanting, when it is a holy day of a particular tradition wanting a shaman from that tradition. Of course that would also require following through with other traditions, Rabbi on Rosh Hashanah, Imam on Eid Al-Fitr, Roshi on Vesak, Secularist on 4th of July, High Priest on Beltaine….

  • U Frood

    You have to admit scheduling a Muslim to give the invocation on Ash Wednesday was a strange choice. Not that Ash Wednesday should have any meaning to the government, but a different date would have been a better idea.

  • tuibguy

    Ash Wednesday; “Remember, Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.” I always considered that a rather atheistic thing to say in a church, anyway. Catholic theology teaches that when the End-Times Shitpile is over then the soul reunites with the physical bodies of believers.

    But, really, if the guy went to Mass and got his forehead smeared before the daily sesssion started, then he has had his obligation taken care of and should let the imam speak. You don’t need the whole day as a reminder that you are dust, do you, Mr. Catholic Pants?”

  • Alverant

    Even if it wasn’t Ash Wednesday they would have found an excuse.

  • peterh

    Hey, Kiefert – special pleading much?

  • Anri

    U Frood @ 3:

    You have to admit scheduling a Muslim to give the invocation on Ash Wednesday was a strange choice.

    Only if one is willing to admit that all of the Christian prayers delivered on any and all holy days of any other religion were equally ‘strange’.

  • John Pieret

    But the magic that comes from the ashes of palm leaves that have been blessed would all dissipate in the presence of a Muslim!

    As this ex-Catholic knows, Ash Wednesday ain’t exactly a high holy day. People just stop by a church, maybe sit through an abbreviated service (memory fails) and get their foreheads smudged. Then they go about their regular business. No special family gatherings or meals or the like.

  • Chiroptera

    Is Ash Wednesday a Christian holiday? How many Christian sects even recognize Ash Wednesay? Having my main Christian experience as a Baptist during adolescence, I never even heard of Ash Wednesday until I went to college and say my Catholic friends with dirt on their foreheads.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Look, us Real Americans will go through the calendar and cross off any days that are important to those of us with Judeo-Christian values. The rest you unbelievers can have, and can give all the invocations you want provided the Legislative isn’t in session.

  • whheydt

    Re: Chiroptera @ #9…

    They may not be cognizant of Ash Wednesday, but I’d bet that every one of them is familiar with the day before, variously known as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), Carnival (from “carne vale”, farewell to meat), Shrove Tuesday (famous day for making pancakes).

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Paging satanists! Paging satanists!

    Lucien Greaves, please step to the white courtesy phone!

  • busterggi

    Ash Wednesday? What does Wodan have to do with ashes?

  • dan4

    I have never understood why there are prayers at secular meetings and events in the first place. It just seems like a non sequitur to me. If the reverse equivalent were to happen, and a church allowed, right before the actual beginning of the service, someone to give a legislative update on the North Dakota legislature, people would (quite rightly) think that that church was out of its mind.

  • matty1

    @15 I like that idea, someone should suggest as payback that any preacher who gives a prayer at the legislature has to open his next service by reading the minutes of that session.

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    matty1 @ 15

    any preacher who gives a prayer at the legislature has to open his next service by reading the minutes of that session.

    Your suggestion is rather cruel. Church is boring enough as it is.

    Meh, perhaps a few more folks will quit churchgoing.

  • chilidog99

    I wonder who they had the day before, on Pączki day?

  • Snoof

    busterggi @13

    Ash Wednesday? What does Wodan have to do with ashes?

    Well, Yggdrasil (which literally translates as “Odin’s mount”) is an ash tree.

  • wreck

    When people showed up at work with dirty foreheads I always had to fight the urge to give them a kleenex and discreetly tell them “Dude, you know you got some schmutz on your forehead?”.

  • birgerjohansson

    Suggestion: -Rite to appease some pagan fertility goddess?

  • eric

    @9: I’m pretty sure most Protestant sects also recognize Ash Wednesday in terms of the church calendar. They don’t celebrate it the way the RCC does, but its still an official “day.”

    Which brings up another point, one in response to U Frood @3. AFAIK, the RCC back in the middle ages intentionally went through the calendar and gave *every* day some religious significance. There is a saint you’re supposed to celebrate or other event you’re supposed to mark associated with literally every day of the year. So skipping Christian holy days is no longer an option. Sure, some are more holy than others, but as others have said, I don’t recall any board of education or local government giving up Christian opening prayers during Ramadan, so why should Islamic prayers not occur during the Easter holy week?