Saturday, March 10, 2012

COMMENTARY: U.S. Congress Is Unlikely to Approve a National Muhammad Holiday

This week, a New York City imam declared that he will start a campaign next month to make April 26 -- the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad -- a national holiday in the United States.

The imam said that a U.S. holiday honoring Muhammad -- who was born in 570 AD -- would allow all Americans to enjoy that holiday like they enjoy Christmas.

While we understand and commend the imam's desire and diligence to honor Muhammad with a national holiday, we believe that the imam's goal is unlikely to occur, because of the ramifications that must be considered in adopting his idea.

The fact is that 95 percent of American worshipers are Christians; 2.2 percent are Jewish; 1 percent are Muslims; and another 1 percent are Buddhists. Consequently, we honor Christ in the United States on December 25 because America was founded by Christians, and Christians comprise the overwhelming majority of Americans today.

If the U.S. Congress approved a national holiday for Muslims, we can be assured that American Jews -- who comprise more than double the number of American Muslims -- will also want to be recognized with a national holiday. Buddhists, as well, will want a holiday to honor Buddha.

Several religious denominations -- such as Mormons -- will want a religious holiday to honor Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism), or whoever their religious leader is.

These are the ramifications that would prevail if the United States were to adopt a national holiday to honor the Prophet Muhammad. Indeed, the U.S. would undoubtedly encounter a "domino effect," as many minority religions in the country would seek a national holiday. Needless to say, it would be unfair for the U.S. to honor one minority religion with a national holiday, but not another.

That being the case, we believe that it is very unlikely that Congress will approve any request from any religion for a national holiday.