LOGANVILLE, Ga. – A lot of parents in the Walton County school district are outraged that their children are studying Islam in depth, while their Christian religious beliefs are largely ignored.
Hundreds of parents plan to address the Walton County Board of Education at its next meeting Oct. 10 to raise several issues with social studies lessons for middle schoolers that they believe are biased toward Islam and overstep parental authority, News 95.5 reports.
“I believe my children are my responsibility and I believe I need to be the one teaching them what we believe instead of the school,” parent Bill Green told the news site.
Green is among more than 1,500 members of a local Facebook group working to draw attention to lessons on Islam in Walton County schools. Local parent Ryan Breece launched the page in an attempt to force school officials to alert parents to upcoming lessons on religion or other sensitive topics to give them an opportunity to opt their children out of assignments they don’t agree with.
Breece told News 95.5 he pulled his sixth-grade daughter out of recent lessons on Islam, her grade suffered as a result, and he doesn’t think that’s right.
“We need to see the assignments and we need to be able to opt out without any grade negativity on our children,” he said, adding that he expects hundreds of parents to attend the Oct. 10 board meeting with similar demands.
WSB-TV cited a fill-in-the-blank test on the basics of Islam as one of several examples of controversial lessons. (Student answers in parenthesis.)
“In 610, Muhammad was told by the angel (Gabriel) that he was a (prophet) sent to Earth by (God)
“He began preaching a new monotheistic faith called (Islam) – “(Surrender) to God”
“Basic beliefs of Islam:
“Followers of Islam are called (Muslims) who believe in (one) God, called (Allah)
“Allah is the (same God) worshiped by Jews & Christians
“Muslims believe Muhammad was the (last) of God’s prophets
“The teachings of Muhammad were written down in the (Qur’an) …, the holy (book) of Islam
None of the sentences in the assignment were properly punctuated. Other assignments delved into the pillars of Islam’s concepts of faith, pilgrimage, giving to charity, fasting, and prayer, along with all of the associated Arabic terms.
WSB-TV reporter Tony Thomas said he arranged to meet one parent about the Islam lessons at a park in Loganville, and within a few minutes dozens of parents arrived to vent their frustrations.
Parent Michelle King said she’s upset because students seem to spend more time and energy on learning Islam than any other religion.
“My daughter had to learn the Shiad, and the five pillars of Islam, which is what you learn to convert,” King said, “but they never once learned anything about the Ten Commandments or anything about God.”
“What they are learning goes against my religion completely,” she said.
Steven Alsup, another parent, took issue with the claim “Allah is the same God worshipped by Jews and Christians.”
“It seemed like half the truth to me,” Alsup said, “they didn’t talk about the extreme Islamics.”
The Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cordoza said lessons on Islam and other world religions are part of the Georgia Performance Standards, which are not intended to favor one over the other.
“This element is not an evaluation of any religion, nor is it a course in the belief system of any religion. It is important that students understand the differences between each of these religions to help them understand the tensions of that exist in the region,” Cordoza told News 95.5.
The objections to Islam lessons in Walton County feed into a growing trend of parents and local religious leaders standing up against what they believe is Islamic indoctrination in public schools.
Tennessee pastor Greg Locke in Mt. Juliet, for example, recently encouraged students to “take an F” on their test about the Islamic religion over what he described as “absolute brainwashing of religion,” EAGnews reported.
Locke pointed out in a viral video that local history books include about 28 pages on Islam, but only “a half-page of watered down Christianity,” according to The Tennessean.