The last time we talked about Tennessee State Rep. Sheila Butt on this site, it was because she had introduced legislation to prevent religious indoctrination in public schools.
But before you get excited, she’s not talking about a bill that would stop Christians from crossing the line. Her bill aimed to end Islamic proselytizing in high school World History classes, where students were taught (*gasp*) that Muslims worship Allah and Muhammad is His prophet.
That bill is still being considered. Last week, HB1418 was assigned to the Education Instruction & Programs Subcommittee. Meanwhile, SB1439, the same bill in the other chamber, was sent to the Senate Education Committee.
Marie Solis, writing at Mic, spoke to supporters and critics of the bill, only to find what we already knew: the legislation would only make matters worse.
Though neither Butt nor the legislation’s language reveal any religious bias, the support of Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination speaks for itself. “The problem in Tennessee is the textbooks have a promotional propaganda approach to Islam while treating all of the other religions as second class citizens,” spokesperson Steve Gill told Mic. Gill said that the widely used Pearson textbook, myWorld History and Geography: The Middle Ages to Exploration of the Americas, offers 50 pages of information on Islam with only “a handful” devoted to Christianity.
Even so, Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education, told Mic she worries about what would be lost in removing religion from public education.
“How do you understand what happened in Iran if you don’t understand the conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims?” Amundson said. “There are parts of history that are very much governed by religion.” She speculated that the bill would put some parts of history “off limits,” making it hard to enforce.
There’s no Islamic indoctrination going on. If Islam is covered more, it’s because it played a bigger role in certain parts of history, most Americans know very little about it, and (to be clear) the discussion covers the basic tenets of the faith, not how people have chosen to interpret it in the present day.
If legislators don’t understand that, what hope is there for the state?
(Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)