A Christian organization has sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos demanding the department pull its support for what it calls "an Islamic Sunday School program" for public-school students.
If DeVos does not respond within 60 days, the Christian Action Network says it will file a federal lawsuit against the DOE and the producer of the "Access Islam" lesson plans.
CAN sent the letter to DeVos March 28 claiming the "Access Islam" program is a gross violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution's "establishment clause" because it promotes one religion over the others in lesson plans used throughout the country by teachers in grades five through 12.
CAN says it is not aware of any federal funding of comparable programs on Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism or any other major religion. But the "Access Islam" program teaches students how to convert to Islam and how to practice its "Five Pillars."
Produced by an affiliate of the Public Broadcasting System, it also provides extensive interviews with Muslims who speak about the positive aspects of Islam from a spiritual perspective.
"There is not one mention about the history of Islam," said Martin Mawyer, president of CAN. "It's all about how to be a good Muslim. I can't find anything on their website that links to programs on how to be a good Christian, Jew or Hindu."
Watch video presentation on the "Access Islam" lesson plans being taught in many public schools:
As of Thursday evening, the Christian Action Network, represented by a law firm in Columbus, Ohio, had not received a response to its letter, Mawyer said.
A look at the "about" page on the "Access Islam" website states: "Funding for ACCESS ISLAM is provided by the U.S. Department of Education."
Christian Action Network has also launched a petition drive to support its call for the Department of Education to pull its support and funding for the Access Islam lesson plans.
WND called DOE spokeswoman Jo Ann Webb seeking comment. She had another spokesman respond who told WND that the DOE provided a grant to create the program back in 2005 under the direction of Congress.
"It was a one-time grant," he said, requesting not to be identified because he is Trump transition team member at DOE and not permanent.
"This is from a grant indirectly to another organization called the Educational Broadcast Corp., from 2005," he said. "A one-time grant. It's not active, not current."
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He said the program was part of the post 9/11 effort by Congress and the George W. Bush administration to help Americans better understand Islam, emphasizing the positive aspects of the religion.
"I think it's important to note who produced it. From this administration's perspective, it's not active; it's not ongoing," said the Trump transition team member at DOE.
But Mawyer said it's not good enough to just say it's an old program no longer funded by the federal taxpayer. The DOE needs to publicly disassociate itself from the program, which is still being used in public schools, because it's unconstitutional, Mawyer said.
"This Islamic program has been available for public schools for over a decade. But nothing that starts off rotten smells sweeter with age," said Mawyer. "The Department of Education's 'Access Islam' program is putrid to the U.S. Constitution, and Secretary DeVos should call this stench for what it is: unconstitutional."
He said "Access Islam" "carries the Good Housekeeping Seal of approval" by the U.S. Department of Education. And as long as that official seal remains on the program, the DOE is, in effect, "an active participant in the Islamic indoctrination of our nation's children."
"This program is certainly not being hidden by the DOE. It's promoted by the Smithsonian, promoted by the United Nations," Mawyer said. "The Indiana Department of Education lists it as a resource for schools, and it is also used in California schools among others."
10 downloadable lesson plans
The "Access Islam" program contains 10 lesson plans that have students answering such questions as:
- "What do Muslim prayers sound like?"
- "What do the movements look like?"
- "What are some of the things Muslims say during prayer?"
- Classroom instructions have children learning the Five Pillars of Islam, where students must "focus on learning about the core duties of Muslims" and are asked to "read about what it means to proclaim faith or belief as a Muslim."
'Misconceptions' about Muslim women
Another lesson plan focuses on "American Muslim Women" and includes a video component, described as follows:
"Comprised of immigrants from more than 60 nations as well as native-born Americans, most African-American, American Muslim women are confronted by many stereotypes. Anisa Mehdi talks to a pair of Pakistan-born sisters and a young African-American woman whose parents converted in the 1970s about the misconceptions they deal with and the different ways they practice their faith."
One of the main "misconceptions" is that Muslim women are not treated equally with men in Islam.
Yet, noted former Muslims such as Dr. Mark Christian – formerly an imam named Muhammad Abdullah who grew up in Egypt – say the hijab is a symbol of the female's submissive role in Islamic society.
Young women must cover themselves in public in Muslim-dominated countries or face severe punishment. In many countries, they cannot even leave the house without a male overseer such as a husband, father or brother.
"Muslims are the very first victims of Islam," Dr. Christian told WND. "And women are the worst victims of Islam. We hear about all these schools and universities having 'hijab days,' and we see a movement to make the hijab fashionable in the West. That is interesting since Muhammad said for women to cover themselves in public. Why? Because if a woman doesn't cover up, she is causing the man to sin. So again, the rule is for the benefit of the man. Muhammad said this."
Mawyer said the DOE wouldn't dare place its seal of approval on a lesson plan that included the New Testament teachings of Jesus, such as his statement that "I am the way and the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me."
Yet, this is the type of content included about Islam in the "Access Islam" program.
"We don't see them funding lesson programs on Jesus' sayings about how to be a good Christian," he said. "They showed how a Muslim gets dressed to go on the hajj [pilgrimage to Mecca]. Where is the video on how a nun gets dressed or how a priest puts on his vestments?
"My attorney looked at this and said you couldn't find a more flagrantly unconstitutional approach to teaching Islam. You couldn't make it any worse if you tried."
The Trump administration has shown it is willing to clean up the failures of past presidents, Mawyer said, and he hopes Trump will "drain the swamp" at the Department of Education.
"'Access Islam' is not only a constitutional failure, but a moral failure to protect the religious rights of Christian parents and their children," Mawyer said. "You cannot make America great again by turning public schools into Sunday school classes on Islam. Betsy DeVos needs to demand that websites promoting this unconstitutional program remove the DOE seal."
Islamic cartoons for kids
WND reported last week on a cartoon video being shown to sixth and seventh graders in New Jersey called "The 5 Pillars." Two parents have requested their school board remove it from the curriculum, calling it a propaganda video. The video starts off with two boys playing soccer on a school playground, one of them Muslim, the other non-Muslim. The Muslim boy hears the call to prayer and delves into a detailed explanation of the Islamic faith, ending with a visit to his mosque.
Scene from the five-minute film shown to 6th and 7th grade students as part of the core standards in New Jersey and other states.
Further research has tied the cartoon video in New Jersey to a company in the United Kingdom.
"It's a scandal what is happening in our public schools right now," said Philip Haney, author of the whistleblower book "See Something Say Nothing" and an expert on Islamic terrorism. "You watch this video, and it makes the non-Muslim kid look like an idiot. And then along comes the Muslim kid saying, basically, 'Here, I can lead you to the Messiah.' It's meant to make the people look foolish and the Muslims to look superior and wise. This is ominous stuff. You're looking at pure evil. All dressed up as a little kids-style cartoon."
Not a word about violent jihad
The 10 lesson plans in "Access Islam" include no historical perspective on the hundreds of violent jihads that Islam has waged against Christians, Jews and pagans.
The warnings about Islam from the Christian church fathers go back to the very beginning.
St. Sophronius, who was the Patriarch of Jerusalem during the first wave of jihad immediately after the death of Muhammad, provided graphic descriptions of Muslim attacks on churches, monasteries, villages and fields, according to researcher/writer Ralph Sidway, author of the book "Facing Islam" and a blog by the same name.
Sophronius tells of the Muslims' tearing down of the crosses and blaspheming the name of Jesus Christ.
Sophronius also wrote of the Muslims:
"Those God-fighters boast of prevailing over all, assiduously and unrestrainably imitating their leader, who is the devil ..."
Such warnings have given way to silence from the church in the face of "lies and revisionist histories foisted today on our schoolchildren and in our universities that claim Islam advanced peacefully in its early years, spread by Muslim preachers and welcomed by local populations," Sidway writes.
Mawyer said parents should look for one key marker indicating biased, unconstitutional religious instruction about Islam.
"If they are being taught the five pillars, that is the key marker to look for in indoctrination," Mawyer said. "There are a lot of variations of it in the public schools, but they all tend to center on the Five Pillars.
"It doesn't talk about the history; it just talks about how to be a good Muslim and how to follow the Five Pillars of Islam," he added. "This is nothing more than a series of Sunday school classes on Islam. There are probably mosques out there that do not go into as much detail as this program does on what a Muslim's responsibility is before Allah.
"Much of this so-called educational material is nothing more than indoctrinating students into Islamic religious beliefs, duties and actions," Mawyer said.