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March 11, 2005

Accommodating religion

From the Tennessean:

Faced with that difficult decision, Abdi H. Nuur removed his employee badge and walked away last month from his forklift driver’s job at Dell Computer’s Nashville plant. He and 29 other Somali Muslims say they were forced to choose between their faith and their employment.

Now the Metro Human Relations Commission is trying to intervene in a confrontation that pits American-style production quotas against Islam’s requirement that its adherents pray daily when the sun sets.

“They told us that we cannot pray at sunset,” Nuur said. “They told us that we would have to wait for our break.”

He said he explained that while some of Islam’s five daily prayer times are somewhat flexible, the sunset prayer is not. Nor does the sun set at the same time every day.

Big employers in the Nashville area have responded in drastically different ways to their Muslim employees’ requests to slip away from their workstations for about five minutes to pray.

Five minutes?!? Interfering with a person's religion because they're taking five minutes to go pray!!!  That's wrong. The story says that Whirlpool won a court battle to force their Moslem employee to neglect their religious duty. That's outrageous.

Dr. Rusty Shackleford of the Jawa Report disagrees saying:

“...the problem with Islamic prayers are that they are set by the solar time of day in Mecca (ie, sunrise and sunset rather than a certain time of day). What do you expect Dell to do, shut down the entire assembly line because a handful of workers can't keep the same schedule?”

My wife works at the local Whirlpool plant, and I asked her about it. she disagrees with me, and thinks it would be too much of a burden on production. I still can't see how five minutes is going to do that much damage that a company'd want to risk offending so much of their potential customer base.

In the end, it is important that we as Christians show the same respect and accommodation for other religions that we would like for ours. I've had bosses that would intentionally schedule Christians to work on Sunday, simply because they didn't like someone telling them how to do their schedule. Belittling someone's religion is wrong -- and I for one, will not be buying a Dell any time soon.

Other coverage: WizBang

Posted by Danny Carlton at March 11, 2005 01:42 PM

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