If you want to offer prayer, earn high grades: a US school sets rule

WASHINGTON: In what appears to be a rare step of accommodating Muslim prayer during class hours, Parkdale High School near Washington DC has allowed a handful of its students to be excused to pray, making some Christian staffers “unhappy”.

According to Cheryl J. Logan, the Principal of Prince George County High School, the initiative is in response to the “needs of the growing Muslim community.”

Muslim students require earning high grades and a parental permission if they have to leave class each day for prayer, Logan said.

The Principal said that currently about ten Muslims students have managed to earn the right to pray. Subsequently, now they are given eight-minute time each day for a joint prayer on campus, she said.

She further said that another student is working hard to raise his grades to join the group, all of whom belong to Muslim Students’ Association.

While, several Christian staffers of the school have already been upset by the move, many of whom recall when the school was a Christian institution, Logan said.

Logan explained that American public schools are secular by law, but are legally allowed to accommodate religious students’ practices. “I’ve been real happy with how we’ve been able to deal with it without it becoming an increasingly big issue,” Logan said.

However, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum Charels Haynes was of the view that Logan’s initiative may not have a happy ending.

“Once you start down that road then you really are in a bind.” Now, any student who asks to be excused from class for religious reasons must be accommodated, Haynes said.

DND