Dozens of people spoke out Monday against a homework assignment made at an Elgin-area U46 school in which it was asserted Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths all believe in the same God.
One month after the assignment was criticized by U46 school board member Jeanette Ward, people who identified themselves as part of the Christian community attended the school board meeting Monday to add their opposition.
Several people attacked the assignment, quoting Bible and Quran verses to support their argument that Christians do not follow the same God as Muslims. Some of those who spoke live outside the U46 boundaries, including one person who came from Florida.
"To say that Allah of the Quran and the God of the Bible are the same is simply absurd," said Art Ellingsen, a church pastor from Arlington Heights.
Some also took offense at comments made last month by the Coalition of Elgin Religious Leaders, who spoke out against Ward's statements on Islam and argued that it was important that all religions be accepted and respected.
L. Dean Hufsey, of Elgin, said Coalition group should have commended Ward, not criticized her.
"By bringing this matter to light, Ms. Ward has done great service for all the sixth-graders and their parents in School District U46," Hufsey said.
Another speaker said U46 educators and board members were "playing with children's eternal lives" by incorporating religion into instruction.
"It's not just something flying in the wind, it's not just a political issue, it is a faith issue, and faith issues are very important to a lot of people in this community," said Mark Frusti, a church pastor from Streamwood.
Bill Ward, Jeanette Ward's husband, said he saw the article his sixth-grade daughter was told to read as part of the assignment and found it advocated atheism.
"Our country was founded primarily on Christian ideals," he said. "However, it established a secular government. The school district should be founded on these same principles."
Earlier in the evening, Ward requested that the two dozen speakers who wanted to speak on the issue be allowed to do so during the public comment portion early in the meeting. Her request was denied because the comments weren't related to anything on the agenda.
Board member Veronica Noland said she didn't think those at the meeting should have to sit through comments likely "drummed up by political issues" that didn't pertain to agenda topics under discussion.
Speakers were allowed to talk at the end of the meeting.