So one of the interesting things about running a "business" that attracts a broad spectrum of the general public is that it attracts a broad spectrum of the general public.
Take Umass/Amherst for instance--the flagship of higher education in Massachusetts.
Although UMass charges more for out-of-state students and,amazingly, in this trying economic time they are actually targeting such students. Either way, when dealing with 20,000+ "costumers" there are bound to be a bevy of personal headaches.
And when you take your "business" seriously you try not to alienate a single soul (if I dare use that religious term).
As a "non traditional" student currently furthering my education I receive all the routine emails from UMass Central Command. Recently I recieved one from a Vice Chancellor describing how the first week of classes conflict with "Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year."
He goes on, however, to point out "University policy ensures that no student will be penalized as a result of a religious observance, but it requires advance notification to course instructors by each observant student."
By "observant" I think he meant those students who actually take their religion seriously and plan to observe the solemn occasion rather than just those students who are observant enough to check their email to discover a potential good excuse for sleeping in on those days.
Then a little later another email from the same Vice Chancellor expanding on his original dispatch:
"Since sending the message about Rosh Hashanah I’ve learned that the major Muslim religious holiday, Eid-al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan also occurs during our first week of classes. I apologize for my oversight and take this opportunity to make certain that all observant students of either recognized religion realize that special circumstances are in play during the first week of a semester, namely that an instructor encountering a student on the roster who is not present at the first two meetings of a class may drop the named student from the class."
And this of course segues me (in the longest delayed lead of my entire career) to the current fire-and-brimstone controversy over a mosque opening near Ground Zero. Freedom of religion is as bedrock an American principal as the First Amendment. And while I spend a tad more time concerned with the latter I can't help but equally respect the former.
Indeed, sometimes I find myself hesitating and then holding my nose while defending the rights of nitwits to spread their pernicious propaganda. But the alternative is far worse.
In the case of the mosque near Ground Zero, I don't even have to hold my nose. The cowardly zealots who attacked us on 9/11 represent Muslims in the same way Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols represent Americans.