Little Falls school boss pushes back against anti-Muslim sentiment

Stephen Jones, the school superintendent in Little Falls, Minn., pushed back and pushed back hard this week against criticism that his school system is making accommodations for Muslim students.

The dust-up was sparked by a letter last week in the Morrison County Record from a Fort Ripley reader.

He’s awarded special privileges including prayer rooms for Muslims, while excusing Muslim girls from wearing gym uniforms. Allowing special privileges to newcomers will not help them assimilate to our culture. The next group that comes along will demand even more special treatment from our school district.

Look no further than St. Cloud. Aside from all the troubles St. Cloud has brought upon themselves, they have installed foot baths, hired interpreters while putting great demands on the school system through legal action. Little Falls is not St. Cloud, but allowing prayer rooms and teaching Islam in world history class while ignoring Christianity is one step closer.

In this week’s issue, Jones didn’t hold back:

Prayer: We do not have “designated” prayer rooms in our buildings so the notion that rooms have been specially built or remodeled for this purpose is patently false. This district has not spent one single penny on prayer spaces for students. The middle school uses a number of spaces based on availability and the high school uses a classroom that is empty during that time. Each of these spaces serves multiple purposes throughout the school day.

Our students who participate in prayer have two minutes to walk from class, five minutes for their prayer time, and two minutes to walk back. My definition of “substantial disruption” is not compromised through this accommodation. There are consequences for students should the expectations laid out not be met.

Separation of church and state. Let’s be clear: There has been prayer in our school district for decades. Walk into the high school commons at lunchtime and you will see tables of students saying grace; assorted students say their own private devotions (many times before tests). Students are routinely excused from school for church-related activities, services and mission trips.

And then Jones pointed out the accommodations the school system makes for Christians:

What is Wednesday night at LFCS? Church night, of course — no activities after 6 p.m., no meetings, no games (except for the occasional playoff game that is out of our control). Some of our vacations are scheduled around Christian holidays (Christmas, Easter). There is an active chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The fact is that prayer and religious accommodation have already been happening for decades at LFCS.

“Why wouldn’t we as a school district offer accommodations to students that demonstrate a respect for their culture, religion, and to them as people regardless of who they are?” he said.