- (Photo: Screengrab/WXYZ)
- (Photo: Screengrab/WXYZ)
Some Muslim parents in Dearborn, Mich., are upset over an "Eggstravaganza" Easter egg hunt invitation their children received from teachers at school because the event is going to be held on the grounds of the Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church.
Attorney Majed Moughni, the father of two public school students, said his son was uncomfortable about receiving the flyer from the Presbyterian church for their event on April 12.
"It really bothered my two kids. My son was like, 'Dad, I really don't feel comfortable getting these flyers, telling me to go to church. I thought churches are not supposed to mix with schools,'" Moughni told The Detroit Free Press.
Moughni said he's uncomfortable with publically paid school teachers passing "out these flyers that are being distributed by a church. I think that's a serious violation of separation of church and state."
According to the Free Press' description of the invitations, outside of mentioning the location, there is no religious language or imagery on the invitations. The flyer's announce Eggstravaganza as well explaining that the church will host an egg hunt, relay race, and egg toss and asks those interested to RSVP.
Invitations were dispensed to three public schools in the area this week.
Neeta Nichols, who pastors Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church, said that her congregation is not trying to promote a Christian event.
"It's designed to be an opportunity to invite the community to come for a day of activity," said Nichols to the Detroit Free Press. "There is not a religious component to this event."
"Part of our ministry in Dearborn is to invite the community to let them know we're here," she added. "We're offering various kinds of programming, fun opportunities, so that we can be engaged with the community."
On Facebook, Jeff Levangie wrote that his wife had received permission before distributing the flyers.
A few commenters responding to Lavangie's post shared their support of the Muslim parents' complaints. But the vast majority disagree with the parents' claims that the school is promoting Christianity.
"Do these people understand freedom of religion? I guess not. Very sad and extremely aggravating!" wrote Diane Mullins Bruce.
Another commenter, Nancy Boileau Vitale, stated, "We are all asked to be tolerant of others' beliefs, traditions, habits, shortcomings, behavior, etc."
"If you are invited to take part in an activity which you have no interest, just say 'no thank you.' This parent should take this opportunity to teach his children tolerance – he/she will need to know how to get along with others here in America. We allow anyone into this country, including 'Mr. Complaining Parent.' Long live the Easter Bunny!" Vitale added.
David Mustonen, director of communications for Dearborn Public Schools, told ABC 7 that "the district is not promoting any religion. They are simply telling parents and children about events taking place in their community."
Mustonen also noted that the school district takes days off for Ramadan, which they don't consider to be a promotion of Islam, but they do it to "meet the needs of the community."
Out of the 96,000 residents in Dearborn, one third claim Arab heritage, among which one third are foreign born, reported TIME magazine last year. The city is also home to the largest mosque in the country, which boasts 3,000 members.
Michigan is home to nearly 300,000 Muslims, with the vast majority living in Detroit and suburban Dearborn. The city is also the second-largest Arab community in the West outside of Paris.
The Eggstravaganza debacle is not the first instance of conflict between the city's Christians and Muslims.
Muslim parents have alleged that Christians have also tried to proselytize, citing a situation several years ago when a group Christian athletes seeking to spread the Gospel had performed in local schools. In 2009, an assistant wrestling coach was accused of trying to convert his athletes.
In 2012, the largest public gathering of Arab-Americans in the U.S. turned violent when members of a Christian missionary group protested the event, reportedly using a severed pig's head and condemning signs to convey their message.
"You're going to burn in hell," one Christian protester reportedly told an Arab-American group, while other protesters held up signs reading "Islam is a religion of blood and murder" and "Muhammad is a … liar, false prophet, murderer, child molesting pervert."
The Christian Post attempted to reach Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church for comment but its office had already closed on Friday.