"Islam Day" Violates Separation of Church and State, ACLU Says
May 07, 2009
HONOLULU – The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (“ACLU”) voiced its opposition to the Hawaii Legislature’s declaration of September 24, 2009 as “Islam Day.”
As Daniel Gluck, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Hawaii explained, “This resolution sends the State down a dangerous path. The Legislature should not be picking and choosing among religions to honor, no matter how well-intentioned the action.”
The ACLU acknowledges that Islam has a long and noble history and that Muslims have made innumerable contributions to science, philosophy, and the arts. Furthermore, celebrating a diversity of views is a fundamental part of America’s and Hawaii’s cultural heritage. The ACLU’s objection to “Islam Day” has nothing to do with the tenets of Islam; indeed, the ACLU is equally opposed to the Legislature’s past recognition of “Buddha Day,” “Bahá'í New Year’s Day,” and “Bodhi Day.” The ACLU strenuously disagrees with those who oppose “Islam Day” out of prejudice, ignorance, and fear of our Muslim friends, family, and neighbors. Nevertheless, the Constitution does not permit the government to favor one religion over another, and the ACLU would raise similar objections to any resolution seeking to discriminate – for good or ill – against any religious group.
“Religion is alive and well in America precisely because the government cannot tell us what we should believe,” Gluck said. “All religions – along with the right not to believe anything at all – should be honored every day, but the government cannot give preferential status to one belief system over another.”
The mission of the ACLU of Hawaii is to protect the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the U.S. and State Constitutions. The ACLU of Hawaii fulfills this through legislative, litigation, and public education programs statewide. The ACLU of Hawaii is a non-partisan and private non-profit organization that provides its services at no cost to the public and does not accept government funds. The ACLU of Hawaii has been serving Hawaii for over 40 years.
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