Selasa, 06 September 2011

Freedom of religion

I was talking to a few fellow students at Wright State University the other and what i heard from them stuck with me and honestly made me feel disgusted.  I usually don't get involved with school politics or events but this drove me to write the following letter.  I would enjoy your input and this will hopefully be mailed off via email to the president of the university tomorrow.

Dear Mr. President,
I have been attending Wright State University for almost a year now and normally I just keep my nose to the grindstone and pay little attention to the politics or events that occur at the university.  That is until lately.  A few weeks ago I was talking to a fellow student who I will refer to as Jane.  We were talking about things we were going to do after class on one of the many 100 degree days and swimming came up.  I discovered that Jane has never been swimming due to her religious beliefs.  This amazed and shocked me.  I immediately came home and did some internet research on her Muslim religion and discovered that the women cannot swim in mixed company and even if it is just females they are still required to wear a modified swimsuit that meets their religious requirements.
Just this week I was talking again to Jane and another student of her religion, I will refer to her as Beth.  Beth, Jane and I were talking after a class and we were discussing the religious observance of Ramadan.  I discovered that they have to pray 5 times a day during this time period on top of the fasting that takes part during daylight hours.  I asked them if the prayer times conflicted with class times and they said it didn’t matter.  This confused me so I asked why.  What I heard next honestly appalls and disgusts me.  These two young ladies do not feel safe or comfortable enough to pray at school during this time. Instead they stress over not being able to pray until they get home and then do all the prayers they have missed as well as all the other things they have to do.  I understand that at times stress cannot be avoided but this seems one of those times it can be.  If I remember my history correctly people came to this country many years ago to escape religious persecution and here we are the descendants of those same people persecuting people of a religion different than what is believed to be standard.  I am not a devout Christian, nor am I any other specific religion but I do believe that each person has a right to worship who, where and how they want to without fear of being ridiculed or punished.  I served in the army once myself and one of the reasons I did this was to be available to protect this great country we have if I was needed.  Many people today are still out there protecting, being injured and even being killed to protect us here at home. 
What I am requesting in this letter is two things. First and most importantly I would like to see if there is an area facing East that can be set up during Ramadan (or even throughout the school year) for students like Jane and Beth to pray at so they and others of their religion can do so in peace and without fear.  Even if is something as simple as a curtained off area for them, similar to the curtain stands I have seen at The Hanger this summer to section off some tables. 
The second request I have may be a bit harder to do.  I was wondering if there is a way to set aside a few times a week for females of their Muslim religion to swim without breaking any of their religious laws.  Every person young and old should have the experience of swimming and being able to relax with others, especially those dealing with the stress of college.
I understand that the time since September 11th many people are afraid of the Muslim religion but we cannot let fear rule us and turn us against a whole religion.  To continue to allow those that are not dangerous to have to hide a part of themselves is only encouraging that fear and encouraging those that we are fighting against.
 Here at home we must do our part to protect our way of life while those that are giving their lives do their part.  One way to do this would be to continue to accept people for who they are not based on their religion, style of dress or skin color. If I was currently deployed I would not want to hear of people here in America living in fear of being persecuted for their religious beliefs.  The world is full of so many different religions that to pick one to be more supreme than the other would and is impossible.  Even in the U.S. we have religions that are accepted but restrict the way they dress and/or wear their hair: Pentecostal, Mormon, Amish and Jewish to name a few.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you can be of some help in helping make Jane, Beth and others like them feel more welcome at this college.

Natalie removed for identity reasons

Thanks for reading and I  look forward to your input, discussion or even hate comments ;)

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