The difference between religious education and indoctrinationSeptember 17, 2015
Kids in Tennessee are being forced to write out the Shahada, the Islamic conversion creed, and recite and write that “Allah is the only God.” If this is happening in public schools (and it is) then where is the Freedom from Religion Foundation that is so quick to take action when a football coach prays with his players after a game?
The Islam worksheet (reprinted in part below) was assigned to middle school students in Williamson County (a county near Nashville that includes affluent Brentwood and Franklin, TN). The worksheet was accompanied by the rote recitation of Arabic phrases the students did not understand. Can you imagine the outcry if these same students had been asked to recite the Apostles’ Creed or the Lord’s Prayer or a prayer of confession claiming Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation?
Yes, those are the five pillars of Islam and yes, it’s useful for Americans to have a basic understanding of a faith system practiced by 23% of the world’s population. But creedal recitation is NOT education, its indoctrination.
Fox News reported that:
Tennessee parents are voicing their concerns about a middle school history assignment in which students were asked to write “Allah is the only God.”
Brandee Porterfield joined “Fox and Friends” this morning, saying she has no problem with her seventh-grade daughter learning about Islam as part of world history, but believes time should also be devoted to Christianity.
“They did this assignment where they wrote out the Five Pillars of Islam, including having the children learn and write the Shahada, which is the Islamic conversion creed,” she explained.
Porterfield said she spoke with the Spring Hill Middle School teacher and principal, who said there would not be similar lessons on Christianity and Judaism.
She said she reviewed the state standards and there are upcoming lessons on Hinduism and Buddhism.
Unlike the lessons on Islam, however, Porterfield said students would not be expected to memorize a creed dealing with those religions.
Maury County School officials (another county close to Nashville) claim that the classes “covered some sensitive topics” and acknowledged that “caused some confusion.” They went on to say that “By the end of the year, students will have studied Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions,” but not Christianity.
As the Daily Caller notes:
[I]t appears that Tennessee students don’t study Christianity per se. There is not, for example, one class day dedicated to the basic Jesus story.
[School officials] promised that students would eventually come across a reference to Christianity when history teachers reach the “Age of Exploration” in eighth grade. Then, students will hear about Christians persecuting other Christians in some countries in Western Europe.
So, middle school students in Tennessee are forced to make a public confession that “Allah is the only God,” in Florida they’re instructed to recite the Five Pillars of Islam as a prayer and perform Muslim rituals including making prayer rugs, and in Wisconsin given an assignment wherein they pretended to be Muslim.
Note please that they not taught the tenets of Christianity and are expressly discouraged from declaring “Jesus as Lord” or making other overt references to the Christian faith.
If the free exercise of religion in America means that everyone is truly free to practice the religion of their own choosing and if the establishment clause means that the government cannot participate in the formal establishment of any one religion, then the indoctrination of U.S. students into the Islamic faith at public school should be prohibited with the same vigor that the atheists, secular humanists and the FFRF oppose any and every reference to the Christian faith.
While accommodation must be made for the free exercise of students’ religious expression, public educational environments are not appropriate venues for religious indoctrination.
While there is no prohibition against teaching about religion as a part of history, culture, anthropology, and current events, you cannot promote one religion and censor another – no matter which religion happens to be your own.
Again, students who are Muslim are allowed to carry the Koran to school just as Christian students are allowed to carry their Bibles. Every student, regardless of their faith, can use the “moment of silence” to pray silently in whatever posture and in whatever name they honor as god. But U.S. public schools are not permitted to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer over the loudspeaker anymore than they are allowed to demand kids recite the Lord’s Prayer.
America is a religious nation but it is not a nation of one religion. There are those who say they want America to be free from all religion but they’re strangely absent when the religion being promoted is Islam. So, although I do not share their calling to rid America of religion, I would ask the FFRF, “why are you not vigorously opposing the indoctrination of American schoolchildren into Islam?”
If you want to be engaged and mobilized on this issue, contact our partners at the American Center for Law & Justice