If you are among those whose blood pressure rises when you read the headline of an article; wake up. The headline does not tell the whole story; read the entire article and then decide if you approve or not.
The Montgomery County Board of Education in Rockville, Maryland, will remove all religious holiday references from their calendars beginning in 2015. This is in response to talks with the Muslim community which had asked for their two most important holidays to be added to the calendars. Last year the school board and Muslim leaders held meetings but failed to agree to close their schools for Eid al-Fitr, the last day of fasting for Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, the last day of Hajj; in addition, they were not listed on the calendar along with Christian and Jewish Holidays.
Action by the school board surprised everyone and created headlines, not all of them accurate; they made a decision to remove all references to religious holidays, although the schools will be closed on those dates. The former Christmas vacation will be labeled ‘winter break,’ and Easter ‘spring break.’
The Washington Times titled their article about the school board’s decision in an inflammatory way; “To appease Muslims, school district drops Christian, Jewish holidays from calendar.” This is entirely unfair and inaccurate.
Days when the schools would be closed and marked for religious celebration will continue as a planned number of non-school days. Teachers and students would not be expected to attend classes on those days, leaving classrooms mostly vacant.
A school board member explained the 7-1 decision to remove all religious reference from the school calendars. Muslim families kept their children home from school on the aforementioned two holidays, hoping the absenteeism would result in closure of the schools. The rate was not at a sufficient level to prompt the board to close the schools. The decision to remove names of religious holidays was labeled as ‘equity.’
Spokesmen for the Muslim community reported that the action by the school board was not their intention. The purpose for their request was simply to have their most important holidays recognized along with Christians and Jews.
Whether or not the Washington Times’ intention was to provoke persons who are already bigoted towards the religion of Islam, the effect will have repercussions and procreate hatred. When the story is read, and the truth is told, the action taken by the Montgomery County Board of Education was their choice. Their decision may not receive approval from the Christian right, but it was their choice to make, not the responsibility of a singular religious group.
What has been taken from the school board’s calendar in no way restricts Christians, Jews, or Muslims from celebrating their cherished holidays. The move simply complies with what has become a ‘politically correct’ nation.
It’s time we cease ‘nitpicking’ every issue reported by the media. Far too many non-issues make the front page. They become a distraction from the important problems facing our country. They play on the emotions of the less-informed and intentionally incite anger when the intelligent response should be to ignore or even laugh at the stories.
By James Turnage