Monday, June 18, 2007

Have I Got A Thought-Provoker For YOU!

I'm torn about this. Here's the deal:

In short, the University of Dearborn-Michigan has decided to pay $25,000 to install two footbaths. Sounds odd, but OK on the surface. Here's the reason they feel the need to install them:

The muslim students have been washing thier feet in the bathroom sinks 5 times a day for prayer.

The university says that the baths are needed because the bathrooms are becoming very messy and dangerously slippery. Also, the baths will be available for all students to use.

The ACLU has decided that this does not violate the Constitution.

SO. Is this a double-standard on the ACLU's part? Is this perfectly reasonable? I'll admit, I've wavered back and forth on this. At first glance, I say "absolutely not, the university should not be putting up money to provide these baths, which are clearly used for religious purposes."

However, they are installing the baths so that the muslims don't have to wash their feet in the sink thereby spilling water on the floor making the bathroom a dangerous place for everyone else.

But then again, nobody else really uses footbaths, and muslims don't have a NON-religious use for them. Washing your feet 5 times a day is a religious act, and one which is not performed in public by 99.9% of non-muslims.

Here's the solution: Ban washing feet in the school's sinks. Period. End of story. Same rules for everybody. What could be more fair than that?

The problem is, it is very clear that the ban would be seen as animosity towards a single religious group. You can't do that. You'd get sued.

Amazing how foot washing is religious speech when you forbid it, but a secular hygine issue when you spend tax dollars to facilitate it.



JTapp said...

I agree that banning foot-washing in sinks is equivalent to building a new foot-washing apparatus. But, this would upset many as they'd have to bring buckets of water and such. So, building a foot-washing thing is sort of a "nice" thing to do for the Muslims.

If they were to spend $25,000 tax dollars on a "Christian prayer room" or paint a cross on the wall of a building as a "nice" thing to do for Christians, the ACLU would immediately sue.

However, $25,000 for a footwashing thing apparently isn't endorsing a particular religion.

Many universities solve this problem by building an inter-faith room or building with prayer rooms where all religious emblems are displayed and there are foot-washing areas as well as other materials for other religions. Tax dollars for that is apparently legal since it treats everyone equally.

I should ask one of the Muslims at Baylor how they wash before prayers while they're on campus.

Greatmoose said...

My personal solution would be to offer moist towelettes, you know, like at a BBQ joint, but somehow I don't think that would go over very big.

Joshua "Doc" Wible said...

I think they should just cut the feet off the Muslims, then they wont have to be washing them so often. No feet, no wasing in the sink. Problem solved. Eveyones happy.