A Christian organization is threatening to sue the U.S. Department of Education for spending money on a program — more than a decade ago — to educate students about Islam. The Christian Action Network (CAN) recently sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos urging her to remove all traces of the program from all publicly funded websites (as if the material would suddenly disappear) and then acknowledge that the program violated the law.
… The DOE Islamic education program is currently being presented to the nation’s schools and teachers through the PBS LearningMedia website.
If the conditions of its “Letter of Demand” are not met within 60 days, CAN will bring a federal lawsuit against the DOE challenging the constitutionality of the federally funded program.
CAN is also issuing a “Letter of Demand” to the Public Broadcasting Service demanding that it also remove all Islamic educational material from its PBS LearningMedia that violates the U.S. Constitution.
Martin Mawyer, president of CAN, says, “Much of this so-called educational material is nothing more than indoctrinating students into Islamic religious beliefs, duties and actions.”
There’s a reason Islam was given special attention through this program. It was created not long after 9/11, American Muslims are routinely (and wrongly) lumped together with Islamic extremists in this country, it’s the fastest growing religion in the world, and it’s a religion many Americans are unfamiliar with. You don’t necessarily need the same sort of crash course in Christianity since we’re all so used to it, and you also don’t need it for Hinduism since it doesn’t have the same worldwide influence.
Carimah Townes of ThinkProgress points out the history of the program, which will make you wonder why CAN is making an issue of it now.
During FY 2005, the DOE, under the Bush administration, offered $166,000 in grant money that went towards the project, and another $8,000 in 2006. The agency hasn’t offered additional funds since, and a DOE spokesman reportedly told World Net Daily that the grant actually went to the Educational Broadcasting Corporation at the time. The money was then funneled into Access Islam.
Yet 12 years later, here we are. Here’s what Mawyer points to as evidence of the indoctrination in the Access Islam curriculum:
Children are asked, or told, to complete such assignments as:
- “…explore and understand the basic beliefs of Islam as well as the Five Pillars that guide Muslims in their daily life; belief, fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage.”
- “…focus on learning about the core duties of Muslims…”
- “…read about what it means to proclaim faith or belief as a Muslim.”
- “…watch the two streaming video segments about prayer preparation and the set of movements for prayer.”
In addition, students are expected to correctly understand and answer such questions as:
- “Describe the process that Muslims go through to prepare to pray.”
- “What do the prayers sound like?”
- “What do the movements look like?”
- “What are some of the things Muslims say during prayer?”
The lesson plan is designed for students in grades 5-12.
None of that is indoctrination. It’s Islam 101. No one’s telling students they have to pray or believe any of this stuff.
Mawyer added in a separate post:
“Can anyone imagine The Lord’s Prayer recited in a classroom?” asked Mawyer. “Or students taught that the Bible is the inspired, infallible final Word of God? Or displaying the Christian cross in the school classroom? Or lesson plans that encourage students to pray to Jesus Christ? It’s out of the question! Christ, the Bible, the cross and Christian prayer were thrown out our public schools decades ago.
Does this guy even understand Christianity? Not every Christian thinks the Bible is literally true, and there’s plenty of infighting in terms of how to interpret the more controversial passages. No one’s displaying Islamic symbols in schools in order for students to worship them, nor are they encouraged to pray to Allah.
And, of course, no one ever removed Christianity from the public schools. Students are welcome to pray and read the Bible and wear a cross. Schools can’t force those things on students, but that’s about it.
The entire basis of this threat is flimsy and it’d be foolish to take down a perfectly sensible curriculum — that’s already completed — just because some Christians don’t like the idea of students getting a comprehensive education.
Islam’s not going to go away just because public schools fail to teach kids about it. All the more reason to give them the basics so they can understand how the religion motivates more than a billion people.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)