Clarion Project, by Meira Svirsky, Oct. 15, 2015:
A Tennessee lawmaker has introduced a bill into the state legislature to prevent courses containing “religious doctrine” from being taught before tenth grade. The bill is in reaction to objections by parents to a three-week curriculum under the topic of world religion for middle-school students that covers the “Five Pillars of Islam.”
The bill is the result of a grass-roots campaign by parents reacting to course requirements that obligated their children to write assignments about Islamic principles of faith, such as “Allah is the only God.” Parents have called it indoctrination.
Parents particularly objected that no other religion was taught at the same time, and that the amount of time spent on Islam was considerably more than that which will be spent on Christianity, Buddism, Hinduism and other religions.
The bill also states that any teaching of “comparative religion” does not focus on one religion more than another.
Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, who introduced the bill, agrees. “I think that probably the teaching that is going on right now in seventh, eighth grade is not age appropriate,” said Butt. “They are not able to discern a lot of times whether its indoctrination or whether they’re learning about what a religion teaches.”
The parents asked for help from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a law firm that addresses constitutional and human rights worldwide. In the course of its investigation, ACLJ ask to looked at the teaching materials from the course but school districts refused to hand them over.
Tennessee law states that the Bible may be used in class, as long as the course doesn’t include the “teaching of religious doctrine or sectarian interpretation of the Bible or of texts from other religious or cultural traditions.”
“If you’re teaching the Middle East, then of course you’re going to mention the religion that was prevalent in that area,” commented Butt, a long-time Sunday school teacher. “But to teach the doctrine is another thing. It’s just a bill about balancing the teaching of religion in education.”
Based on her experience, Butt said, “Junior High is not the time that children are doing the most analysis. Insecurity is in Junior High a lot of times, and students are not able to differentiate a lot of things they are taught.”
Charges of indoctrination by Tennessee parents are reminiscent of a case in California where a federal lawsuit was filed against the Byron Union School District concerning a three-week course about Islam seventh-graders that used the workbook, Islam, A simulation of Islamic history and culture.
In the California school, 12-year old students were told:
- “From the beginning you and your classmates will become Muslim”
- Dress up as a Muslim and try to be involved to guarantee an excellent grade.
- Pick Islamic names and wear them around your neck as ID tags.
- Read the fatiha, the opening chapter in the Koran and recited by Muslims at every daily prayer.
- Play a dice game called Jihad by declaring a jihad against another group.
- Jihad is a struggle by Muslims against oppression.
- Complete the phrase required for conversion to Islam.
- Complete the Five Pillars of the Islamic Faith.
- Analyze certain verses from the Koran.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a ruling marked “Not for Publication,” decided that course did not contain “overt religious exercises” that violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Although Islamist organizations have argued that the Tennessee bill is “anti-Islam,” it is reasonable for parents to be concerned about such curriculum. Separation of “church and state” is foundational principle and primary right in the U.S. and should be enjoyed by every individual.
The teaching of religion as religion has no place in America’s public schools.
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org
WHITE COUNTY PARENTS TO HOST TOWNHALL TO OPPOSE ISLAMIC INDOCTRINATION IN LOCAL SCHOOLS (H/T Steve Gill)
“School Board has refused to remove textbooks and materials that promote
Islam in White County Schools”
SPARTA , TN (October 14, 2015) – Concerned parents and citizens in White
County, Tennessee are hosting a townhall meeting in Sparta on Tuesday
October 20 @ 6pm @ Christian Life Assembly located at 117 North Spring St,
Sparta to continue efforts to inform and engage the community about the
pro-Islamic textbooks and materials being forced upon teachers and students
by the White County School Board. Over 100 parents attended an
organizational meeting at the White County Library last week.
School board members, including Chairman Edd Cantrell and Vice Chairman Gary
Sparkman, have ignored parents’ objections to the textbooks and materials
and refused to remove them or restrict their use in classrooms. Seventh
grade social studies textbooks in White County contain nearly 50 pages
devoted to a sugar coated view of Islam and the “Islamic World” while barely
mentioning Christianity. The School Board has also violated at least 14 of
their own policies and procedures in connection with conducting school board
business and may have violated state laws concerning public access to
materials used in the classrooms in White County.
Usama Dakdok (an Egyptian Christian who eventually immigrated to the US and
now operates a ministry teaching the truth about Islam and spreading the
Gospel; http://www.thestraightway.org/) will be one of the guest speakers,
along with Anthony Wright, Chairman of White County Citizens Against Islamic
Indoctrination. Nashville attorney Mike Sheppard will also detail the
apparent violations of school board policies and procedures by the White
County School Board and School Superintendent Sandra Crouch.
“The School Board has adopted the textbooks and materials in a shroud of
secrecy and misrepresentation and have attempted to hide what is happening
in our classrooms concerning the promotion of Islam and limited mentions of
Christianity,” Anthony Wright pointed out. “We plan to expose what is
happening and call the community to action since the values promoted by the
School Board members in our classrooms do NOT reflect the values of our
community nor do they follow the laws of the land.”
Bryan Wright, who recently attended a School Board meeting to object to the
materials, explained that “the schools should teach any aspect of religion
with a focus on fairness, balance and TRUTH; that is not happening with
respect to the Islamic Indoctrination being presented in White County thanks
to our own elected officials.” “The fault is not the teachers who are being
forced to use these materials; it is the fault of the school board that
unanimously approved them and who should be held accountable for that
terrible decision,” Bryan Wright noted.
Overton County, Tennessee has adopted a set of supplemental materials to
provide a fair and balanced teaching of social studies and religion but the
White County School Board has refused to accept any alternative to the
textbooks and materials they adopted despite significant and growing
For more information contact Anthony Wright, Chairman, White County Citizens
Against Islamic Indoctrination, 931-254-9429. More information is available
8538/timeline/ and www.stopislamicindoctrination.com.