Ed Brayton is right that Maryland’s Parkdale High School is taking a “weird” approach to religious accommodation.
The school is requiring Muslim students to maintain a certain level of GPA in order to qualify for being excused from classes for daily prayers.
As Brayton writes, “If the accommodation is reasonable under the Free Exercise clause, it’s reasonable for all Muslim students, not just the ones with a certain grade point average.”
He’s also right that there should be some formal correction for the Parkdale teachers upset over any accommodation of the Muslim students’ prayers who told their classes that the public institution was “a Christian school.”
What those teachers likely meant is that the majority of students attending the school are, at least culturally, Christian. That’s probably true. But that doesn’t mean that Christians, because we’re the majority, get to enjoy privileges denied to neighbors of other faiths or of no faith.
For Christians trying to figure out a way to think about these things, let me suggest the Miley Rule — the ethical principle articulated by the great moral philosopher Miley Cyrus: “Just put yourself in that person’s shoes.”
How would the good Christians of Riverdale Park, Md., feel if the free exercise of their religious beliefs were made conditional on maintaining a high GPA? How would it feel to be in their shoes?
Or, as Miley also said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Wait, maybe that last one wasn’t Miley, maybe that was Jesus. Either way, it seems like a good rule.
I attended the public John Greenleaf Whittier elementary school through second grade. Every Wednesday, my Catholic classmates were dismissed early to walk a few blocks over to St. John’s for catechism. If our schools could accommodate that, we can certainly figure out how to accommodate the prayers of our Muslim students as well.* * * * * * * * *
I think the Miley Rule and that other rule also apply to this story.
In a recent post at Out of Ur, David Fitch defines LGBT people as suffering from “sexual brokenness.”
Apart from the merits or demerits of that particular position, it’s odd that Fitch characterizes this as a demonstration of his “taking a non-position to this question.” His post is titled “Why You Shouldn’t Have a Position on LGBTQs,” and I think he’s quite sincere when he claims “we have no position.”
I think he quite sincerely doesn’t realize that, yes, in fact, he does.
“What does it mean to be privileged?” Jamelle Bouie asked. “It means not having to think about any of this, ever.”
And it means getting to pretend that “we have no position,” even when you clearly do.
And it means that you get to decide what “position” to take toward others, or to loftily take no position at all, while others can never have a “position” on the “question” of you. Unlike them, you’re never a “question.” That’s what privilege means.
Fitch’s title — “You Shouldn’t Have a Position on LGBTQs” — cannot make any sense for the many “yous” reading it who are themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or queer. How can you have “no position” on yourself? I suppose that’s marginally better than being asked or required to have a “position” against yourself, but still, what are LGBT Christians to make of Fitch’s argument?
My advice for Fitch would be, again, listen to Miley: Just put yourself in that person’s shoes.