Earlier this week, about 50 staffers from the Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania chose to attend a workshop to learn more about Islam and Arabic culture. There’s a reason for that: the District has seen a rise in students from the Middle East and any experienced teacher can tell you it’s easier to reach certain students when you’re able to bridge a cultural divide.
[The] workshop… included a trip to the Lebanon Valley Mosque. While there they learned about the practice of Islam, watched an afternoon Muslim prayer service and where treated to a lunch of Moroccan cuisine.
All of that makes sense to me.
For teachers who have virtually no experience with Muslim students, it’s useful to understand why they may need to pray during the school day, just as it’s helpful to know what their diets are like during Ramadan in case it affects their attentiveness in class.
If you know next to nothing about Islam, this workshop was a useful primer into the faith. The District could’ve just offered a lecture, but taking people to the mosque made it that much more real. It’s the same reason teachers take students on field trips. Sure, you could read a science textbook, but experiencing those principles in a museum first-hand is so much more interesting and memorable.
You won’t be surprised to learn, then, that conservatives are freaking out because this was *clearly* indoctrination into Islam. They’re also calling out church/state separation groups for their hypocrisy for not taking any action on this:
Can you say what the –?
Or better yet, how about imaging [sic] this “what if” scenario: Fifty or so teachers and administrators with one Pennsylvania school district were just given a day of specialized training on the Baptist faith — at taxpayers’ expense — that wrapped with them hitting the sanctuary of a local church and joining the congregation in prayer.
Now is it outrageous?
But the bigger issue is this: Should taxpayers be paying for teachers to bow down to Allah during the school day?
Talk about a propaganda tool…
Of course, that’s all bullshit. Blowing innocuous things like this out of proportion is what right-wingers do best.
The workshop wasn’t propaganda. The teachers weren’t asked to join in the prayers — they merely witnessed them. They weren’t asked to bow down to Allah. This was purely an educational event to help the staff learn more about a subject they knew relatively little about.
That’s also why the comparison to a church makes no sense. There’s no reason for the staff to attend, say, a Baptist church for a workshop like this because they’re already familiar with Christian beliefs. It really would be a waste of their time.
No wonder the ACLU and FFRF and Americans United for Separation of Church and State aren’t getting involved. It’s not because they only go after Christians. There’s just no indoctrination taking place here. No laws were violated.
Ultimately, it boils down to this: Conservatives are angry because people were educating themselves. That goes against everything they stand for.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Dan for the link)