At Royal Oak Intermediate School in Covina, California, students in Len Cesene's seventh grade history class fasted last week to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Mr. Cesene's 12 and 13-year old students are the latest to become part of a growing Islamic indoctrination sweeping through America's schools.
Mr. Cesene's letter to parents explained that, "in an attempt to promote a greater understanding and empathy towards the Muslim religion and toward other culture, I am encouraging students to participate in an extra credit assignment. Students may choose to fast for one, two or three days. During this time, students may only drink water during daylight hours."
Outraged by the assignment of religious fasting in a public school, the American Middle-East Christian Association (AMECA) exercised its First Amendment right to organize a protest outside of Royal Oak Intermediate School. In a press release, AMECA spokesman Steve Klein emphasized that no Islamic country in the world has the right of free speech.
But when it comes to religious expression in the public square, there is an evident double standard. As Klein noted, "America's Christian children had better not even utter the name Jesus Christ in public schools without persecution and prosecution by the 'separation of church and state' zealots."
Christian author and radio talk show host Bob Morey organized several hundred people to participate in the protest. "What would Muslim parents feel if their students came home with a letter from their public school teacher [saying] that next Thursday they're bringing in a priest to baptize all the Muslim children?" Morey asked in the Los Angeles Times.
In the months after September 11, Islamic education became a popular trend in schools. But today, in many classrooms, students are not merely being taught about Islam; they are required to become practicing Muslims for days and even weeks.
In many California schools, middle school students are required to take a three-week course in which students adopt a Muslim name, wear a robe, learn the fundamental tenets of Islam, and stage their own Jihad. According to ASSIST News Service, students must learn to pray "in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful," and they must chant, "Praise to Allah, Lord of Creation." For nearly a month, young and vulnerable minds are saturated with a curriculum of Arabic phrases, Koran verses, and proverbs.
Students cannot say "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, but they can shout prayers and praises to Allah. The name of Jesus in a public school - spoken reverently - is thought of with greater disdain by politically correct educators than is the name of Jesus taken in vain. But the name and life of Mohammed is thoroughly drilled into students' minds. And teachers are being trained to teach - and preach - Islam.
For the past two years in Connecticut, public school teachers have attended the Teachers' Institute on Middle Eastern Studies, a weeklong conference about Islamic religious beliefs and culture sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Education. Two members of Congress from Connecticut deplored the irresponsible use of federal funds for the conference. The Middle East Forum calls the institute "one-sided and extremist" and notes one seminar that focuses on "Israel's state-sponsored terrorism." A professor at Central Connecticut State University calls the presentation "more inflammatory than informative."
Since September 11, the National Education Association has drenched teachers with a flow of pro-Islamic propaganda. The NEA website includes recommendations that schools and teachers "invite speakers and show videos on the Arab world and Islam." In 2002, the NEA released a curriculum guide called "Tolerance in Times of Trial," encouraging teachers to deliberately disassociate Islam with terrorism.
America is not an Islamic nation, nor should it be. None of the world's Islamic countries are particularly free or prosperous, and America is.
That doesn't mean that schools should avoid the subject of Islam. It should be an important part of classes in world history. But Ramadan fasts, robes, prayers to Allah, and radical conferences for teachers are dangerously unjust.
Our public schools have assaulted the Christian faith time and again, and the present hyper-glorification of Islam only exacerbates the confusion to which young students are now subjected. We must decide, with finality, whether we will be a people reflective of our Christian heritage in ordered liberty, or whether we will deepen our wounds already inflicted by the poisonous doctrines of multiculturalism and moral relativism.
While America decides, parents must be vigilant. They must beware of the radical Islamization of their children's schools.
Hans Zeiger is a conservative activist, president of the Scout Honor Coalition, and a student at Hillsdale College. His columns are published in the Seattle Times