Interesting religious accommodation claim
robertmw at MINDSPRING.COM
Wed Jan 23 17:46:06 PST 2002
At 05:42 PM 1/23/02 -0500, Jim Maule wrote:
>Isn't the question whether the bowing is an integral part of the activity?
That's obviously part of the question, but doesn't it only shift the burden
of proof back to the plaintiff, if a MacDonald Douglous analysis were to be
What about a different martial art, say Sumo, in which there are clearly
religious aspects of Shinto origin and practice to the sport? From
<http://www.taima.org/en/hemplib1.htm>: "During the sumo ritual of
dohyo-iri a yokozuna, the highest ranking sumo wrestler, will ritually
cleanse the dohyo (sumo ring) to exorcise evil, wearing a very heavy hemp
rope around his belly." See also,
<http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/nso/asian/culture/sumo.html>: "There is
a traditional ritual, or routine, in which every Sumo wrestler engages at
the beginning of a match. This ritual is called "shikiri-naoshi." The
wrestlers, called rikishi, clap their enormous hands together to get the
attention of the gods. They show their open hands to their opponents to
show that they are not armed and then stamp the floor to scare away demons.
In order to purify, or clean, themselves they each throw salt in the air,
wipe off their bodies, and rinse their mouths out with water. When the
ritual is complete, the referee announces "Tachi-ai!" and the match begins.
At the end of a match, the warriors bow their heads to each other. The
loser leaves the ring first while the winner gives thanks to the three gods
Would the above make David Guinn's free association argument more
persuasive, if not dispositive?
Again, although I agree with the result in the Judo case, my concern is
that merely discounting the religious significance of something that does
have religious significance to others, does not necessarily make it so.
Bowing may be merely an Eastern handshake, a sign of respect, and part of
the discipline, to martial arts practitioners, but it is prostrating
oneself to others, including at least one prospective Muslim student I
talked to. My concern is that an argument that it is of no religious
consequence seems to me akin to Judge Moore's argument that posting the ten
commandments in order to "acknowledge God" is not religion.
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