Obama has been no friend to religious accommodation - most recently, he opposed conscience clauses exempting medical personnel with religious objections from performing abortions. And Obama's Dept. of Justice has been widely criticized for politicizing the law - from witch-hunts for Bush-era lawyers to the pardoning of the New Black Panthers. The newest twist is the DOJ's championing of a Muslim teacher's right to skip school in order to make a Hajj.
Safoorah Khan had taught middle school math for only nine months in this tiny Chicago suburb when she made an unusual request. She wanted three weeks off for a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The school district, faced with losing its only math lab instructor during the end-of-semester marking period, said no.
The DOJ has asserted that the school violated Kahn's civil rights and "compell[ed] Ms. Khan to choose between her job and her religious observance." The law requires employers to reasonably accommodate workers' religious beliefs, if such imposes no more than a minimal burden on working conditions.
Like his support for the Ground Zero Mosque, Obama's support for this teacher is an attempt to continue his outreach to Muslims. But this is a weak case and the DOJ is an inappropriate forum for sectarian preferences - the administration would never have intervened on behalf of a Christian teacher. Clumsy religious diplomacy in the courts devalues Obama's credibility as an advocate of the rule of law.