Ritual secularism

On May 30th, TOC noted Debbie Schlussel’s scoop regarding the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s plan to place Muslim footbaths in public bathrooms. The Detroit News picked up on this on June 5th: College’s foot bath plans spark backlash

… [spokesman for the university, Terry] Gallagher argued taxpayer money won’t be used for the foot baths because the $100,000 total bill for the bathrooms is underwritten by a fee students pay for building maintenance.

But Downs countered the move appears to violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits governments from favoring religions or subsidizing them.

The Detroit chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union isn’t getting involved, arguing the foot baths are secular since non-Muslims could use them, said spokeswoman Rana Elmir.

Mr. Gallagher apparently is unaware of the definition of “fungible,” and indifferent to what students pay in fees. In any case, since the fees are mandatory and charged by a publicly funded institution, I don’t think which pocket the money comes from is of any consequence – First Amendment-wise.

The ACLU apparently isn’t able to see the word “Muslim.” I mean, do you think they’d have the same attitude about a baptismal font, whether the word “Christian” appeared or not? Do they think there wouldn’t be a cry for new hate crime legislation if infidels used these “secular” objects as urinals? College students, in my experience, have been known to pee in sinks.

An example misunderstanding: …the Kansas City International Airport taxicab facility. Those who accept the ACLU’s position that these are NOT religious appliances, but suspect that they ARE nonetheless related to a religious ritual, may have an even more discordant view.

I know the ACLU opposes school vouchers as a violation of the “separation of church and state,” and I’ll bet Mr. Gallagher does too. Here’s a specifically religious expenditure by a taxpayer funded institution, and they’re fine with it.