The “Five Pillars” of Islam – charity, fasting, prayer, belief and pilgrimage – are being taught to public school students in Nyssa, Ore., under the guise of world history, the school has confirmed to WND, even though a parent raised a complaint about the same teachings a year ago.
In a letter to parents following the concerns that were raised at that point, Supt. Don Grotting and other school officials told parents that the text called “Journey Across Time” features a chapter on “Islamic Civilizations.”
As part of that, “class activities have included guest speakers (including an American soldier serving in Iraq and a practicing Muslim woman who is an American citizen living in Mountain Home) who talked about geography, dress, climate, religion, economy and culture and student skits, in which students prepare and perform three- to five-minute skits about the tenets of Islam belief: charity, fasting, prayer, belief, and pilgrimage.”
Janine Weeks, the curriculum director at the school, this week told WND that the curriculum, and class activities, are continuing.
“We’ve not made any changes,” she said. “The content standards require that we present information about the rise of Islam in the context of world history.”
She said there are “choices” about the way students can respond to the chapter’s requirements. “Perhaps one of the items might be the fact that there is a religious journey that is part of the belief system; the kids can present that in a report,” she said.
However, she said she was unaware of what requirements there were for presenting the basic beliefs of any other religion, including Christianity, to students.
The McGraw-Hill book itself, according to its online outline, heavily emphasizes the positive aspects of Islam.
“Muslims were successful merchants, in part because they had a common language and a common currency. Baghdad, Cairo, and Damascus grew wealthy from trade and became important centers of learning, government, and the arts. The cities featured mosques that served as Muslim houses of worship and centers of learning. The bazaar was a very important part of the Muslim city. Although Muslims enjoyed great success and cities grew, most Muslims lived in villages and farmed,” the book says.
“Muslims made valuable contributions in math, science, and the arts. Muslim scholars saved and translated the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Muslims are well known for their beautiful buildings. The Taj Mahal, which is made of marble and precious stone, is one of the world’s most beautiful buildings,” it says.
Meanwhile, in its chapter on Christianity, it notes that Christianity “attracted many followers because it gave meaning to people’s lives, appealed to their emotions, and promised happiness after death.”
It goes on to talk about the schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church that still exists.
For a student exercise, it suggests students study the American Red Cross.
In its chapter on Judaism, the book notes “the 12 tribes of Israel often quarreled, so they asked a prophet to choose a king to unite them against their enemies.” Then, after World War II, “Palestine was divided into a Jewish nation called Israel.”
The parent who raised the concerns a year ago, Kendalee Garner, was contacted and told WND that essentially Christianity and Judaism are not being taught. “They teach the history of Hinduism but not the tenets of its faith,” she said.
“When I asked the teacher today if they were changing the curriculum she replied there is nothing we need to change,” she said.
Idalia Stam, the chair of the school board, confirmed the same teaching curriculum was being used, but declined further comment on the issue.
A lawyer who has argued over such teachings in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court said the procedures wouldn’t last 10 seconds in a public school if Christianity were being addressed.
“Would it have been ‘just cultural education’ if students were in simulated baptisms, wearing a crucifix, having taken the name of St. John and with praise banners saying ‘Praise be to Jesus Christ’ on classroom walls?” Edward White III, of the Thomas More Law Center, told WND earlier.
As WND has reported the case White handled was almost a duplicate. Teachers were having students memorize Islamic prayers, wear Islamic dress and learn to behave as a Muslim under the guise of studying history.
Some parents objected and their resulting lawsuit was turned back by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where the opinion called it “cultural education.”
The presence of such Islamic teachings is because “organized Islamists have gained control of textbook content,” according to an organization that analyzes textbooks.
The American Textbook Council has concluded that the situation is the consequence of “the interplay of determined Islamic political activists, textbook editors, and multiculturally minded social studies curriculum planners.”
It has gone so far that correcting the situation now becomes a problem, because “educational publishers and educational organizations have bought into claims propounded by Islamists – and have themselves become agents of misinformation.”
That comes from Gilbert T. Sewall, who not only wrote the organization’s report on Islam and textbooks, but also generated a response to the flood of criticism he encountered.