by Jack Minor –
The principal of a Ft. Collins school has said a picture of the American flag lowered in the presence of the Saudi Arabian flag, was not done by his staff and that he promptly resolved the issue once he was made aware of it.
The picture, first published on the blog www.greeleyreport.com and was attributed to a reader, shows the American flag at Bauder Elementary School in Ft. Collins lowered while the Saudi Arabian flag was elevated.
The display is a violation of Public Law 94-344 of the Federal Flag Law which states “No other flag or pennant should be placed above, or, if on same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America,…No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the United States at any place within the United States or any territory or possession thereof:…”
Bauder Principal, Brian Carpenter, told the Gazette the American flag is not normally in that location and someone had moved it next to the Saudi Arabian flag. Carpenter went on to say that the American flag has always been in a prominent position above the other international flags at the school.
According to the school, the purpose of the international flags is to recognize the nationality of the many students in the school who come from other countries. Carpenter said the school has many parents from other countries who attend Colorado State University.
Carpenter said the school has approximately 20 other flags besides the U.S. flag throughout the building. While the American flag is able to be seen by visitors entering the school, the Saudi Arabian flag is located in another pod where only someone who knew the inside of the school would see it.
When the school received a phone call expressing concern about the flag, Carpenter placed the American flag back to its proper location within a matter of minutes. “The American flag is very important to us and this country so we treat it with respect.”
Carpenter continued, “We realize this is an extremely sensitive time with us getting close to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. There is an increased amount of alertness and sensitivity, but if someone is concerned about something to do with our flag I will settle the issue right away.”
When asked about the picture, Carpenter said it appears to have been taken sometime before the start of the school year. ”Examining the picture, I can see the office window and things that are there now are not in the picture. I know the picture was taken sometime before this week.” Carpenter said he did not receive a call about the flag until Monday.
Public schools and universities around the country have faced controversy for activities that some say favor Muslim beliefs over other religions.
A San Diego elementary school stirred controversy when it created an extra recess period to allow Muslim students to pray. Several universities have installed foot washing basins for Muslims to use during the required five times daily prayer ritual.
Some groups have raised concern about the basins, citing separation of church and state issues. The ACLU, which normally takes a stand against any Christian display using public funds, takes the opposite approach to the foot baths.
Kary Moss, director of the Michigan Civil Liberties Union, says the foot baths are different because other students, including Christians, can use them. ‘What makes this different, though, is that the foot baths themselves can be used by anyone, don’t have any symbolic value and are not stylized in a religious way. They’re in a regular restroom, and could be just as useful to a janitor filling up buckets, or someone coming off the basketball court, as to Muslim students.”
Last year, students in a Wellesley, Massachusetts elementary school took a field trip to a local mosque where they were asked to participate in midday prayers. Parents were told students would learn about the architecture of the mosque and observe a prayer service.
Instead, students were given a lecture about Muhammad and some boys participated in a prayer service. A video by a parent whose child was on the trip showed a mosque spokesman telling the students, “You have to believe in Allah, and Allah is the one God, the only one worthy of worship, all forgiving, all merciful.” The school subsequently issued an apology.
Public schools in Oregon and California have both come under fire for “teaching” Islam. A school in Nyssa, Oregon was teaching a chapter from a history book “Journey Across time.” Children were allowed to dress up in traditional Muslim garb for extra credit. Other assignments included having students learn the “five pillars of Islam”, study Ramadan and listen to a guest speaker who was dressed in traditional Muslim garb and spoke about the Quran.
A California school gave 7th grade students similar assignments when teaching about Islam as part of a World History and Geography class. Some parents who objected filed a lawsuit against the school district. The case was turned back by an appeals court who called the instruction “cultural education.”