A Catholic high school in Detroit, Michigan, is standing its ground after receiving severe backlash for creating a prayer room for Muslim and other non-Christian students.
The Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, which has about a dozen or so Muslim students, has drawn several protests in recent days. Parents of Christian students are worried that school’s decision to provide a sacred space was “unconscionable” and would undermine their “children's religious education.”
However, despite several complaints, school management has refused to shut down the rooms.
"My quick response is, all Catholic schools have as part of their admissions that they don't discriminate based on race, creed, color," said school Principal John Birney. “When the question was, ‘Is there a place that I can pray?’ the answer that evolved was yes. We have this sacred space available for you if you want it.”
He said making accommodation for non-Catholic students is very much in line with the thinking and teaching at the school.
"Is [the prayer room] something that compromises our faith and identity, or is it in fact consistent with the respect that we have?” Birney told local station WXYZ. “We are Catholic in the sense that we share the ‘good news.’ We are not Catholic in the sense, ‘Hey, if you're not Catholic, don't bother coming here.’”
Apparently, none of the students have yet made any formal complaints about the presence of the prayer rooms, which are used by other non-Christian students including Muslims.
"The people that are going to Brother Rice, they're already accepting the fact that we have to live in this world together as Christians, Muslims, whatever, and if they're around Brother Rice and see people that will walk the talk and are good people, and it's not all about them, it helps everyone," a parent, John Everley, told Fox 2 News. "I see the parents, they're worried. They see things out there, but the worst thing is to separate and assume the worst about everyone."
There are about 650 or so students at the private school who do not practice Catholicism.
Islamophobia is on the rise in United States and hate crimes against Muslims are being reported all over the country. In times when anti-Muslim sentiments are so high, the efforts of this school are certainly commendable.
Everyone has the right to follow whatever religion they want in their own capacity. It’s about time we let go of prejudice and get a little more tolerant toward people of other faiths.