Complicated questions

Worldview Item of the Day

The worker’s union at the Tyson Foods plant in Shelbyville, Tennessee recently convinced the management at that plant to trade the paid holiday of Labor Day for the paid holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Some might ask, “What is an Eid al-Fitr?” and with good reason. If you are one of the less than one percent of Americans who are Muslim or the slightly larger percentage of Americans that are currently paying attention to the Muslim world, you will recognize Eid al-Fitr as the celebration of the end of the Islamic month of fasting known as Ramadan.

It is far too easy to react reflexively to such news, but as with most cases of religious accommodation in the public view, this situation is complex. According to Fox News, nearly 21 percent of the plant’s workers are Somalis, most of whom are presumed to be Muslim. This fact itself seems to create a precedent for allowing for the addition of a Muslim paid holiday.

More troubling is the fact that, in addition to receiving a paid holiday for their religious practice–even Christians typically get Christmas and Easter off–these Muslim Somalis also receive a place to pray located at the plant. While accommodating a large minority’s desire to celebrate freely a holiday that is important to them is laudable, what precedent is used to justify the establishment of religious facilities at the workplace?

For me, the question is whether anyone really cares. I do, but mostly because I see this action by the union at this plant as part of a national double standard on the free practice of religion. If Christians were to campaign for having Ash Wednesday off–keep in mind that, if the workers at this plant follow the national trend, 84 percent of the non-Muslims identify themselves as Christian–and to have a place dedicated to daily Bible studies, the campaign would not even be taken seriously, let alone considered.

While this news does bother me, I also realize that it is really a reflection of something else entirely: the fact that many of the 84 percent of Americans who call themselves Christians do not do much to put their claimed faith into practice. Maybe it does not matter whether workers at one plant get Eid al-Fitr or Labor Day off with pay, but it does matter that the ideals of Christian faith, morality, and work ethic are slowly leaching from the public scene into oblivion. Only Christians can do something about that trend, and then only by remaining true to the Word and applying it to their lives. Laws cannot fix what is broken in the heart; only God can do that.

In the mean time, it also strikes me as ironic that a labor union would voluntarily give up the celebration of the holiday designed to celebrate their version of socialism for the celebration of a holiday by any religion. That it is a religion that views their socialistic, humanistic outlook as an excuse for persecution boggles my mind even more.


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2 Responses to Complicated questions

  1. keba says:

    I was half-expecting them to add Eid al-Fitr to the list of paid days off, not remove an existing day off.

  2. mom says:

    We (Christians) are becoming the frog in the water. As the temperature slowly rises the frog does not notice and takes no action and then he is boiled. Are we feeling the heat. I think not. Pray; make Disciples; be informed; become involved.

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