Hemant wrote an eye-popping post yesterday in response to an article by Jerry Coyne about Sikh pupils habitually carrying ceremonial daggers called kirpans into U.S. public schools. My friend/colleague/boss argued that Coyne was wrong to object. Since kirpans are part of Sikhs’ religious requirements, Hemant thinks that we should accommodate Sikhs and their kirpans on religious-freedom grounds.
I respectfully disagree — completely. Below, I explain why in five points of rebuttal.
Hemant: “How quickly religious rights go out the window when we’re talking about people who aren’t in the majority.”
Me: Majority or minority status has nothing to do with it. Why would it? Let’s argue this on the merits, irrespective of whose superstitions are most popular.
So, to battle. Religious rights, you say? I call what you propose religious accommodationism. I’m only in favor of that when whatever is being accommodated extends to all pupils. If a school allows head coverings, the right to wear a hat should shouldn’t only be given to Jews wearing yarmulkes. It should also apply to Muslim students who want to wear the hijab … and to atheist students who feel like showing off their Flying Spaghetti Monster beanies.