CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Commissioners over one county in North Carolina have approved a resolution recognizing June as the “Month of Ramadan.”
The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners adopted the resolution on Tuesday, with six in favor and three against.
“Ramadan is a sacred time that commemorates the revelation of the Quran to the prophet Mohammad, and encourages fasting, prayer, reflection, God consciousness and gratitude,” the resolution reads. “[E]ach day of fasting teaches the soul to struggle with the self, persevere, be patient and to forgive and love.”
It asserts that Islam is a part of America’s history and that Muslims should be recognized for their contributions.
“Ramadan reminds us that Islam has always been a part of America and Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country, including those made by the famous Muslim scholar Omar Ibn Said, who was enslaved and brought to the Carolinas in 1807,” the resolution states.
Democrats George Dunlap and Dumont Clarke were the sponsors of the proposal, and during the commission meeting last week, those in favor of the resolution spoke to those gathered about the traditions that are observed during the Islamic holiday.
Following the vote, the Board posted a notice to social media, writing, “#MeckBOCC adopts a proclamation that declares May 26 – June 24 as the Month of Ramadan.”
All of the comments under the post were in opposition to the resolution, with one follower remarking, “You do not do that for any other religion. I get it. You’re scared, both of Muslims and of being called Islamophobic. You are pathetic.”
Commissioners Jim Pickett, Matthew Ridenhour and Bill James were the only board members to reject the idea.
“To the best of my knowledge we have never (and I don’t think it would be proper) adopted a resolution in support of Lent … Easter, Christmas, Hanukkah, Passover, Yom Kippur, Pioneer Day for Mormons, or Diwali,” Puckett said in an email, according to the Charlotte Observer.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has also expressed objection, writing a letter to the board to assert that the resolution violates the U.S. Constitution because it entangles the government with religion.
“Several statements from the Mecklenburg County proclamation go beyond mere recognition of Ramadan as a cultural phenomenon,” the group wrote in a press release. “The resolution includes statements about drawing closer to ‘God,’ the revelations of the ‘Prophet Muhammad,’ and even the existence of a ‘soul,’ all without the qualification that these are mere beliefs of those who celebrate the holiday.”
“The government must scrupulously avoid making declarations as to the veracity of religious beliefs,” it said. “In order to avoid the appearance of religious endorsement, the Board of County Commissioners must take steps to disassociate the county from promotion of religious beliefs, whether espoused by Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Satanists or others.”