Muslims to Puck – all get their day |

Muslims to Puck – all get their day

Barry Smith

Today is Muslim Family Value Day in Nevada.

It was declared so by Gov. Kenny Guinn in a recent proclamation, and several events are planned in Reno, Sparks and Las Vegas mosques and Islamic centers to celebrate the day.

The proclamation says Nevadans of Muslim faith “embrace the pioneering spirit of the Silver State and strive to promote the moral and spiritual aspirations that represent the American character.”

It also quotes the motto of Nevada, “All for our country,” and says the practice and teaching of traditional Islamic knowledge “defends and exhorts democracy, and upholds religious freedom and social justice.”

I wasn’t really paying much attention to Muslim Family Value Day in Nevada until I got some phone calls wondering what in the heck Gov. Kenny Guinn was thinking.

Muslim Family Value Day? In Nevada?

A couple of people implied that Guinn was perhaps being unpatriotic in supporting Muslims, but I dismissed that idea as overenthusiastic jingoism. They might want to remember we aren’t at war with Muslims. We are at war with terrorists. And Iraq.

But then another caller wondered if the proclamation didn’t, in fact, violate the separation of church and state. Should the governor be promoting any religion?

Well, that’s a fair question, I thought. So I checked to see what else we are celebrating in Nevada by proclamation of the governor.

Coming up Thursday is National Day of Prayer. It was established in 1952 by Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.

National Day of Prayer is multi-denominational, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the people who protest phrases like “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Saying a prayer implies that someone is listening, and that implies there is a God, and that implies the government is sanctioning religion, and that implies we’re all going to hell.

Oh, wait … If there’s a hell, there’s a heaven. And that implies …

No, I don’t buy the argument the government can’t even acknowledge religion exists. I don’t buy the argument we can ignore the history of the founding of this country, or that faith in a higher intelligence not only is fundamental to the rule of law in a civilized democracy but helps guide the choices we make for the future.

You don’t have to be born again. You don’t even have to believe in God, but don’t try to push your beliefs on the rest of us. That’s equally objectionable.

Back to the proclamations:

n March 28 was Jewish Sports Heritage Day

n Also in March, there was a day in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Bishop Gorman High School, named after the first Catholic bishop of the Nevada diocese.

n Back in December was the “holiday season” proclamation, which covered Christmas, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Fast of Ramadan, Kwanzaa and a fairly general sweep that includes Hindus, Sikhs, Bahai and American Indians.

So sometimes the proclamations are religion-specific. But there seems to be a fair effort to spread around the praise.

As for Nevada proclamations with no particular religious tenor:

n April 6 was Tartan Day, marking the signing of the Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, in 1320.

n On April 24, the Sons of Italy celebrated their 75th anniversary in Nevada.

n Also in April, the governor memorialized the 89th anniversary of the genocide of the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

n Coming up on May 22 will be a day in honor of the Electrical Joint Apprentice Training Committee of Southern Nevada’s 2004 graduating class of electrician apprentices.

Not to disparage any of these groups (Heaven forbid! Just imagine a world without journeymen electricians), but it becomes pretty clear that Gov. Kenny Guinn and his staff are open to issuing a proclamation in honor of just about anything.

And I think that’s how it should be. You’ve got a group, it stands for a good cause, then the governor ought to be able to whip up a proclamation, without regard to nationality, religion or career preference.

I mean, he would probably draw the line at Mongols vs. Hells Angels Day – but I’m willing to bet some savvy staff member would be able to put together a proclamation in honor of motorcycle clubs because they do, after all, collect toys for kids at Christmas. Some of them, anyway. (In fact, next month happens to be Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. The proclamation doesn’t specifically ask people not to murder anybody in one of our casinos, but that may have simply been understood.)

If you need further proof that gubernatorial proclamations, while meaningful, are not exactly rare as mastodon bones, I offer two final examples:

n May 15 will be Wolfgang Puck Day in Nevada, in honor of the way the renowned chef has been “instrumental in cultivating a pleasant and thoroughly enjoyable dining landscape in Las Vegas.”

n April 18 was National Columnists Day in Nevada, and nobody sent me flowers.

Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at or 881-1221.