The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case of a Christian high school student in Maryland who, despite threats of receiving a failing grade, refused to deny her faith by making a written profession of the Muslim conversion prayer known as the shahada.
The shahada states, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."
Caleigh Wood, an eleventh-grader in La Plata High School, a public school in La Plata, Maryland, was represented in the case by the Thomas Moore Law Center, nonprofit public interest law firm know for defending First Amendment rights – particularly those that violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
As part of the school's "World History" curriculum, the La Plata High School high school students were taught extensively about Islam and required to list the benefits of the religion.
Wood and other students were forced to view a series of pro-Islamic PowerPoint slides, including one that stated, "Most Muslims' faith is stronger than the average Christian."
The curriculum also taught:
- "Islam at heart is a peaceful religion."
- Jihad is a "personal struggle in devotion to Islam, especially involving spiritual discipline."
- "To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism."
- "Men are the managers of the affairs of women."
- "Righteous women are therefore obedient."
The case was previously heard by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the course did not violate the Establishment Clause.
The ruling came despite the fact that the high school's content specialist, Jack Tuttle, testified that use of such comparative statement was inappropriate, and that he would have advised the teacher not to use it.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the law center, commented on the fact that the Supreme Court refused to hear the case:
"I'm not aware of any public school which has forced a Muslim student to write the Lord's Prayer or John 3:16 [which states]: '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.'"
"Yet, under the pretext 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.
"It's disappointing that the Supreme Court did not take this opportunity to clarify the test which lower courts should use when ruling on establishment clause and free speech challenges to public school classes on religion."
The legal question in front of the Supreme Court at stake was whether La Plata High School violated the First Amendment's Establishment and free speech clauses when it gave Wood an assignment she was unable to complete without violating her religious conscience as a Christian.
Wood believes it is a sin to profess the existence of any other god but the Christian one. School officials refused her father's request that she be allowed to opt-out or be given an alternative assignment.
When Wood refused to complete the assignment to write the shahada, she received a failing grade.
"Many public schools have become hot beds of Islamic propaganda. Teaching Islam in schools has gone far beyond a basic history lesson," Moore commented.
"Prompted by zealous Islamic activism and emboldened by confusing court decisions, schools are now bending over backwards to promote Islam while at the same time denigrating Christianity.
"Although the Supreme Court passed up an opportunity to provide clearer constitutional guidance on this important issue, there will be other chances as this issue isn't going away anytime soon," he added.