A school flyer inviting students to an “Eggstravaganza” at a nearby church property has sparked controversy in Dearborn, Mich., which has one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in America.
“It really bothered my two kids,” Majed Moughni, a Muslim, told the Detroit Free Press. “My son was like, ‘Dad, I really don’t feel comfortable getting these flyers, telling me to go to church. I thought churches are not supposed to mix with schools.'”
The city of Dearborn itself has built a reputation in recent years for its opposition to Christianity.
The city recently agreed to pay Christians arrested at its Arab International Festival in 2010 a settlement, remove all criticism of them from a city website and post a public apology. The American Freedom Law Center said the settlement followed more than two years of court negotiations and resolves the Christians’ claims against the city.
The 2010 confrontation that led to the original dispute was caught on video. Two years later another video revealed a crowd of angry Muslims throwing chunks of concrete and eggs at a different and unconnected team of Christians, spraying them with urine and cursing at them as police stood by and then threatened the victims with “disorderly conduct.”
A lawsuit has been filed over that confrontation as well.
The latest conflict over faith, according to the Detroit paper, developed when children at several elementary schools were given an invitation to an event April 12 at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn.
Plans there include an egg hunt, a relay race and egg toss.
Moughni told the newspaper he’s concerned that school teachers “paid by public funds” are passing out “these flyers that are being distributed by a church.”
“I think that’s a serious violation of separation of church and state,” the parent said.
The pastor of the Presbyterian church said the distribution was approved by Dearborn Public Schools and is not promoting a religious event.
“There is not a religious component to this event,” Pastor Neeta Nichols told the newspaper. “Part of our ministry in Dearborn is to invite the community to let them know we’re here.”
The report noted part of the debate centers around whether Easter is entirely a religious holiday or one that combines Christian and other cultural traditions such as the Easter bunny and eggs.
Greg Lipper of Americans United for Separation of Church and State said it worries him that the event is at a church.
“This invitation was for an Easter egg hunt at a Christian church – and so the event has much clearer religious connotations. Context matters,” he told the paper.
Generally, public schools distribute flyers and invitations based on their own policies, but courts have found that if they distribute for one community-based group, they must treat all community-based groups equally, analysts note.
As WND reported, the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations has lobbied to close down schools for the Muslim holidays, which vary on the calendar from year to year.
In Montgomery County, Md., CAIR petitioned local school officials to add two Islamic holidays to the school calendar and, if needed, to shorten the winter break to make up for the days off.
Violence against Christians at the annual Arab festival has occurred several times, including the incident caught on the video below, which contains objectionable language from the angry mob: