Catholic School Offers ‘Sacred Space’ for Muslim Prayer, Parents Protest

News: Education
by Church Militant  •  •  December 14, 2015   

Complaints have been turned over to the archdiocese of Detroit

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BLOOMFIELD, Mich. ( - A Catholic high school in Michigan is under fire for the creation of a prayer room for non-Christian students.

Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield, Michigan has received much backlash from parents for creating a non-Christian prayer room within the school to allow Muslims and other non-Christian students to pray, with some calling the decision "unconscionable" and one parent stating that the move will "undermine" her child's paid-for religious education.

John Birney, president of the Catholic high school, which has around a dozen Muslim students, defends the decision, asserting that the school doesn't "discriminate based on race, creed, color."

"When the question was 'Is there a place that I can pray?' the answer that evolved was yes," he said, adding that the school has a "'sacred space' available for you if you want it."

According to the school, none of the students have complained about the prayer room and that the room has been in existence for years.

Birney urged people to ask if the prayer room is "something that compromises our faith and identity, or is it in fact consistent with the respect that we have."

"We're Catholic in the sense of we share the Good News," Birney stated. "We're not Catholic in the sense of 'Hey, if you're not Catholic don't bother coming here.'"

In response to parents who oppose the prayer room, Birney claims that he respects their opinion, but the school administration would "need to talk to experts in the field before we finalize what we choose to do."

He stated that he has been in contact with the archdiocese of Detroit and is also waiting for their input before moving forward.

Principal Birney noted that all students are expected to follow the school's Catholic curriculum and respect the Catholic faith, but Catholic students are also expected to respect those of other faiths.

In a statement last week concerning Muslim immigration and religious liberty, Abp. Allen Vigneron of Detroit stated, "Fifty years ago, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught that the Catholic Church treats with respect those who practice the religion of Islam. And for these past 50 years, Catholics and Muslims in southeastern Michigan have enjoyed warm relations marked by a spirit of mutual respect and esteem." reached out to Brother Rice High School for comment, but has received no statement as of press time.


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