In Maryland, several years ago, a high school teacher taught her students about Islam. Not all agreed with what, or how, she taught. One student's family sued. The case is wending its way to the Supreme Court, where it will undoubtedly be heard.
According to CBN News:
Four years ago, a Christian high school junior was compelled by her teacher at La Plata High School in La Plata, Md., to recall the Islamic conversion creed – the Shahada – as part of a written assignment. She was required to write the Islamic conversion creed, "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."
Comment: It is one thing to tell students in a unit on Islam what the Shahada says, and to explain that mere recital of the Shahada is enough for someone to be converted to Islam. But by requiring her students to write out the Shahada, the teacher is confusing them: have they, the students may wonder, in some sense "converted to Islam"? What is the effect on young and impressionable students, of being required to write out this conversion creed? Do they think: "Well, that wasn't so bad. It was kinda fun. Jeez, I could be a Muslim right now, if I wanted." Are they being inveigled into somehow assenting to its content, or will they take the task as simple role-playing, make-believe which no one could possibly object to?
The World History course also taught that 'Most Muslims' faith is stronger than the average Christian's.
This statement is unacceptable on two grounds. First, this is not a fact but an opinion– that the faith of Muslims is "stronger" — offered by a public school teacher to her credulous students. This is a remark that clearly favors one religion, Islam, over another, Christianity, and thus violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Had that teacher said that "the faith of Christians is stronger than that of Muslims" we can be certain that CAIR, the ACLU, and the Southern Poverty Law Center would have come down on that teacher, and the school system, like a ton of bricks.
A second objection to that remark about the greater strength of Muslims' faith, is that no evidence is presented as to its truth. How could the teacher conceivably claim that the faith of most Muslims is "stronger" than that of the average Christian? How can this possibly be measured? Clearly, the students in La Plata are meant to admire the religion that, they are told, commands the stronger faith. There are two billion Christians and 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. How was this factoid about the comparative strength of belief arrived at? Is a Muslim willing to die as a "martyr"while engaged in Jihad evidence of an admirably stronger faith, or of a terrifyingly twisted one? If the teacher relied on a poll for this assertion, what kind of questions were asked to ascertain the "strength" of a faith? Does a Muslim who says his five daily prayers "stronger" in his faith than the Christian who regularly attends church on Sundays? Both are fulfilling their respective duties. Is a Muslim "stronger" in his faith if he is willing to kill and to be killed for it? Perhaps what Muslims are here being praised for — this greater "strength" of their faith — is reason, rather, to deplore and fear them. Or are such value judgments about religions simply impermissible?
What if that statement about the "strength" of belief were rephrased for accuracy: "Many Muslims have a fanatical faith that Christians can only marvel and shudder at, and that has led some, as we know, to commit acts of violent Jihad, including suicide bombings, that testify to the strength of their faith." It is impossible to imagine that a public school teacher would ever dare to utter such a statement, however accurate it may be.
Caleigh Wood [the girl whose family is suing] refused to complete the assignment,[writing out the Shahada], believing that it is a sin to profess by word or in writing, that there is any other god except the Christian God.
School officials refused to let her opt out of the course and as a result, she received a lower percentage grade for the course, but that did not affect her[overall?} letter grade.
School officials ought to have punished not the pupil, Caleigh Wood, but the teacher, as well as anyone higher up in the school system who may have had a hand in creating the classroom content on Islam. They need a refresher course in the meaning, and application, of the Establishment Clause. As public school employees, they are not allowed to favor one religion over another. Or do they not realize that they have been favoring Islam?
The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) on behalf of the Wood family filed a lawsuit, claiming the school had violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause and the girl's right not to be forced to profess faith in another religion. Both the Federal District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the high school's Islamic curriculum.
Now, the TMLC has appealed the case to the Supreme Court, asking the high court to decide whether any legal basis exists to allow public schools to discriminate against Christianity while at the same time promoting Islam.
Comment: It's hard to believe that both the Federal District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the school. Fortunately, an appeal to the Supreme Court will be made and there, given its current makeup, it is almost certain that the appeal by the Thomas More Law Center, claiming that the behavior of school authorities violated the Establishment Clause, will prevail.
Under the guise of teaching history or social studies, public schools across America are promoting the religion of Islam in ways that would never be tolerated for Christianity or any other religion," TMLC President and Chief Counsel Richard Thompson said in a statement. "I'm not aware of any school which has forced a Muslim student to write the Lord's Prayer or John 3:16: 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'
That is an unanswerable objection.