Catholic School Offers 'Sacred Place' For Muslim Prayer

One wonders what the point of sending your children to Catholic School, or any religious school for that matter is, if said school offers students alternative "sacred spaces" for which non-Christian prayer may be carried out. 

Complaints have been lodged with the archdiocese of Detroit concerning at least one Michigan Catholic high school that has done just that. The ChurchMilitant blog expands: 

Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield, Michigan has received much backlash from parents for creating a non-Christian prayer room within the school to allow Muslims and other non-Christian students to pray, with some calling the decision "unconscionable" and one parent stating that the move will "undermine" her child's paid-for religious education. 

John Birney, president of the Catholic high school, which has around a dozen Muslim students, defends the decision, asserting that the school doesn't "discriminate based on race, creed, color." 

"When the question was 'Is there a place that I can pray?' the answer that evolved was yes," he said, adding that the school has a "'sacred space' available for you if you want it."

According to the school, none of the students have complained about the prayer room and that the room has been in existence for years. 

Birney urged people to ask if the prayer room is "something that compromises our faith and identity, or is it in fact consistent with the respect that we have."

"We're Catholic in the sense of we share the Good News," Birney stated. "We're not Catholic in the sense of 'Hey, if you're not Catholic don't bother coming here.'"

Parents, however, are none too pleased. But while Birney claims he respects many of the parents' feelings, his school's administration would "need to talk to experts in the field before we finalize what we choose to do."

Principal Birney noted that all students are expected to follow the school's Catholic curriculum and respect the Catholic faith, but Catholic students are also expected to respect those of other faiths. 

In a statement last week concerning Muslim immigration and religious liberty, Abp. Allen Vigneron of Detroit stated, "Fifty years ago, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught that the Catholic Church treats with respect those who practice the religion of Islam. And for these past 50 years, Catholics and Muslims in southeastern Michigan have enjoyed warm relations marked by a spirit of mutual respect and esteem."

What school administrator's also fail to acknowledge is that a sacred prayer room in which, for instance, Christians or Jews could engage in personal prayer is not, nor would it ever be offered at an Islamic madrassa. When it comes to Islamic schools, there is clear distinction about the sole religious ideology girding the entire institution and never are compromises made to accommodate other viewpoints or faiths. 

Of course, this is the difference between the tolerance displayed by those of Judeo-Christian faith and that of Islam. Still, Christian and Jewish institutions should heed a valuable lesson here: what is considered tolerance to them is considered acquiescence within Islam. People send their children to religious school so that they can be imbued with a religious education based on the faith represented by the learning institution. Period. While it is nice to accommodate other faiths, non-Catholic students in this instance are free to attend any other school of their parents' choice if a Catholic education is not what is truly desired. As usual, however, it is never about that. It is instead about forcing others to amend their practices to suit the outlier.