UPDATE: The Arab American News has reported that only one Muslim parent complained. Also, local Muslim leaders have strongly backed Dearborn’s Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church and urged all Muslim parents to bring their children to the Saturday, April 12 event. (RELATED: AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL: Muslims, Presbyterians amicably resolve Easter egg crisis)
ORIGINAL STORY: In Dearborn, Mich., home to over 40,000 Americans of Arab descent, some Muslim parents have complained about flyers handed out at public schools advertising an Easter egg hunt at a local Presbyterian church.
The Muslim parents assert that the flyers – emblazoned with the word “Eggstravaganza!” – violate the separation of church and state widely ascribed to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Students at three Dearborn elementary schools received the flyers. A large number of Muslim students attend the schools.
The “Eggstravaganza!” is scheduled to take place on April 12 event at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn.
The flyer urges students to RSVP “to secure your free spot,” note the Free Press. The associated imagery includes a festive bunny and some eggs.
The event will feature a traditional Easter egg hunt as well as an egg toss and a relay race.
“It really bothered my two kids,” parent Majed Moughni told the Free Press. “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 added that he believes the flyers are “a serious violation of separation of church and state.” Noting that his kids had previously received something about a Halloween event at a church, he said he is worried that Christians are trying to convert Muslim kids through propaganda distributed at public schools.
The Muslim father of two kids, aged 9 and 7, said he would be equally opposed to the distribution of flyers about events at local mosques.
Pastor Neeta Nichols of Cherry Hill Presbyterian noted that the event has absolutely nothing to do with religion.
“It’s designed to be an opportunity to invite the community to come for a day of activity,” she told the Free Press. “There is not a religious component to this event.”
Greg Lipper, a lawyer at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, proclaimed his concern that the flyer is advertising an Easter egg hunt that will occur at a church. In his view, “context matters”—and it matters even more when young kids are involved.
Easter eggs are a symbol many Christians use to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. In pagan religions, eggs represented fertility, birth and rebirth. More generally, they symbolize springtime. Kids typically tend to associate Easter eggs with candy and people in rabbit costumes.
For 136 years (as of next week), the president of the United States and his family have hosted the White House Easter Egg Roll. This year, the theme is “Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape.” Over 30,000 people will convene on the South Lawn on Monday, April 21 for the festivities.