Home > Uncategorized > ACLJ Protest Against TN Social Studies Lessons Illustrates Hopeless Divide

ACLJ Protest Against TN Social Studies Lessons Illustrates Hopeless Divide

September 12, 2015

Google’s RSS feed on education articles often provides me with perspectives I would otherwise miss if I read only progressive blogs, including a piece written by American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) attorney Jay Sekulow ominously titled “More Islamic Indoctrination in Our Schools”. In this article, Sekulow, who has argued many cases on religious liberty before the Supreme Court, lists incidents where three of his Tennessee clients’ children have been exposed to Islamic brainwashing in the form of assignments given as part of the middle school curriculum. The assignments, drawn from a study guide, included some fill-in-the-blank questions on worksheets, recitations that are used as part of the “indoctrination” process, and being “…forced to recite things in Arabic without even being told what it meant.” But Sekulow notes that this is not limited to Tennessee:

And this isn’t just an issue in one state. Earlier this year, we reported that public school students in Madison, Wisconsin were given an assignment to “pretend you are Muslim,”  while public school students in Florida were instructed to recite the Five Pillars of Islam as a prayer, make Islamic prayer rugs, and perform other Muslim rituals. Suspiciously, the textbook discussing Islam had chapters missing. Which chapters? Those on Christianity and Judaism.

And Sekulow goes on to express dismay that other presumably anti-Christian groups are not joining the protest against this curriculum:

To put this in perspective, imagine the outcry from the ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), and other leftist and angry atheist organizations if a study guide stated, “Jesus is the Son of God,” and forced children to recite the Lord’s Prayer.  These organizations would be beside themselves claiming indoctrination of our public school students.

The ACLU and FFRF are not opposed to the teaching of religion in the context of social studies. Indeed, it would be difficult to teach students about the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, the Crusades, and virtually all of the great wars in history without describing the religious beliefs that fueled them. The answer to their silence is probably found in the responses offered by school district officials when confronted by parents:

School officials claim “By the end of the year, students will have studied Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions,” but there is no indication as to what will be covered or for how long.

Of all the lessons being taught to middle schoolers, the one that made the most sense to me was the one asking students to “pretend you are Muslim.” If we spent more time in schools placing ourselves in the shoes of  others we might begin to break down the walls between cultures, between religions, and between each other. In doing so we might end the needless disputes over religion and find the humanity that exists in all of us… but secular humanism is unlikely to be deemed acceptable in the eyes of the ACLJ.

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