Muslim Footbaths Create Legal Issue, Says AU

Officials at the University of Michigan at Dearborn should drop plans to install special foot-washing stations for Muslim students, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has urged.

In a letter to university officials, Americans United argued that creating the foot-washing stations with public dollars could lead to “unlawful fostering of religion.”

University officials were prodded to propose the project because some of its Muslim students say their religious beliefs require them to wash their feet numerous times during the day before prayer.

Americans United faulted the university officials’ claims that the new facilities are a reasonable accommodation of religion and insisted that building the footbaths would “provide a benefit to one particular religious group.”

“The government simply cannot be in the business of building special religious facilities for members of certain groups,” said Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn in a press statement. “The Constitution mandates that government remain neutral among religions. Providing special treatment to one group is not neutrality.”