Interesting religious accommodation claim
robertmw at MINDSPRING.COM
Wed Jan 23 16:04:33 PST 2002
I'd actually solicited Eugene's and Steve Jamar's advice, off-list, some
time back on a nearly identical question. I study a Korean system of
martial arts called Kuk Sool Won. A prospective student asked whether
bowing would be a requirement and said he would not be able to participate
because he was Muslim. After disavowing any religious significance to
bowing, we said we'd look into it and get back to him, but he never
returned, so we never came to any resolution about it.
I agree with David that bowing has no religious significance (and I agree
with the result), but I wonder whether that ends the inquiry. I'm also not
sure that just because those who bow find no religious significance to
bowing, that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the practice if it,
indeed, violates their sincerely held religious beliefs. Is there no
"reasonable accommodation" inquiry under Title II? Or is the judge correct
that specific class-based animus is required?
I, for one, cannot imagine an Asian-based martial art without bowing as
described in the opinion. But then, there was once a time when people had a
hard time imagining school days that did not begin with a mandatory pledge
of allegiance to the flag. Any ideas on what the 9th Circuit will say?
At 03:38 PM 1/23/02 -0600, David E. Guinn wrote:
>It seems to me that she should not prevail. If bowing is religious and
>judo is a religion then rights of association should prevail precluding
>the state making judgments about what should or should not be practiced in
>that religion. The only question would be whether amatuer sports are so
>entangeld with state regulation that the state should not be allowed to
>sponsor judo (which I strongly doubt.)
>If the sport is secular and the act has no religious significance, then
>she has not standing to assert that it violated her beliefs as a religious act.
>As a former martial arts practitioner, bowing was never considered a
>religious act but an ideological/cultural one strongly linked to the
>discipline of the practice.
>David E. Guinn, JD, PhD
>5032 N. Glenwood Ave. #3
>Chicago, IL 60640
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