Schools in Virginia Shut over Anger at Islam Homework

Schools in Virginia Shut over Anger at Islam Homework December 18, 2015

Turns out a World Religions class is doing a unit on a World Religion called “Islam”.  Parents freak out.  God forbid our children learn anything about the world of 1.6 billion of their fellow humans. Dude, if your religious formation for your children is so crappy that you are afraid they will convert due to a *homework* assignment, the problem is not your school.

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  • Ziggy123

    just a quick correction: World Geography* Class covering world religions. A couple points, 1) I think you’re over-reaction to the over-reaction is interesting…”Dude”…”God-Forbid”…”so crappy” 2) I think Christians feel pushed out of schools (whether true or not) while Islam is welcome so the sensitivity might be there. 3) (i know i said only a couple but whatever) You’ll always have the people who over-react when they find out about religion in public schools because of the false belief you can’t have religion in public schools.

    • Brylar Foustark

      Do you think Christians feel pushed out even more during the Christmas break?

      What would happen if people requested a Muslim holiday break?

      • Peggy M

        It’s probably not Christmas break. It’s Winter break.

        • Brylar Foustark

          You have to be freaking kidding. Even if they did a surface name change the break is specifically due to a religion.

          • Mike Petrik

            Right. Which is why they changed the name to Winter break.

            • Brylar Foustark

              So they changed the name to continue honoring the religious tradition and that makes it acceptable?

              Like I asked above, if you change “bullets” to “hugs” does that make it okay to shoot guns in park? After, the name has been changed so obviously the activity cannot be the same.

              • LFM

                You’re being disingenuous. Holidays are not a physical “thing” like bullets or hugs, where the changing of their names would make no difference to their essential qualities. Legal, public holidays, on the other hand, have no existence beyond the law that names and enforces them. Changing their names by law changes their associations and can ultimately succeed in suppressing their original meaning.

                Far too many people – and businesses – have something invested in “the holidays” for them to be banished from the public calendar. That does not mean that there is no hostility to these holidays, or that some people – no doubt a small minority – would drive them out if they could, and have succeeded in imposing their views to the point of getting the names changed.

                • Brylar Foustark

                  Do holidays have any physical identification qualities? Such as do you see any physical difference in decorations between Halloween and Christmas? Easter and Memorial Day?

                  By your logic they all should look the same but they dont because they sourced very differently.

                  • LFM

                    You are guilty of the fallacy of reification: you assume that an abstract idea (a holiday) is a concrete object in the same sense that bullets and hugs, or nativity scenes and dreidels, are concrete objects.

                    By my logic all holidays should not look the same; they should, rather, be modeled on the words that define them because they have no existence other than as concepts. When you change the name of Christmas to “Chrismukkah” or “the Holidays”, you change the kind of holiday it is and the kind of symbols used to celebrate it, at least in the minds of the people who dislike the idea of celebrating Christmas. Of course, that sort of person would prefer to bring any public celebration of such holidays to a halt, but fortunately they are a rare, if disproportionately influential, breed.

                    • Brylar Foustark

                      Oh. I get it now. When you change “KKK” to the United States you are saying racism no longer exists.

                      (by your logic you are saying as long as the name is changed then everything else must change)

                      The fallacy of reification is not committed when you show simply changing the name of an event, idea, or object does not change the material and immaterial consequences. (but it is good you are trying to learn logical fallacies.)

                    • LFM

                      Oh, go blow it out your ear, you old windbag. Your knowledge of logical fallacies could fill a thimble with room for more.

                    • Mike Petrik

                      You are being unfair. There is no evidence whatsoever that Byler is old.

                    • LFM

                      You’re quite right. Mea culpa.

                    • Hezekiah Garrett

                      There’s not much evidence Brylar is even real. Though the name alone is ample evidence its parents hated it.

                    • Brylar Foustark

                      makes sense. calling people names while avoiding any dialogue is an Obushama quality sign of knowledge.

          • Peggy M

            A religion Which Can No Longer Be Named

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Not a religion. There are several religions with holidays this time of year, coupled with vacations and use-it-or-lose-it leave for workers. At this point in time, it’s just logical.

          • Dave G

            Hold that thought. Give it a little more time.

      • Ziggy123

        I’m not sure I understand the “Christmas break” question. I know that the break is around a religious holiday, and Christmas is also a federal holiday. But as Peggy pointed out, the religious part is being pushed out. Christmas break -> Winter Break, Spring Break was on Holy Week before Easter, no longer. Now these traditions were started long ago, so the change away from them would make Christians feel pushed out. Again I said “whether true or not”, meaning it was a sentiment among people not necessarily a reflection of what was going on.

        In my personal opinion, I think that a local community should decide what holidays they want “off” for themselves as well as Federal Holidays also. I’m sure if a Muslim Holiday Break was asked, many would reject it but if you went to a place like Dearborn, many would accept it. Of course, you could always start a private school and do whatever you wanted (within reason and the law of course)

        • Brylar Foustark

          The religious part is not being pushed out because the holidays are still in effect. Changing the name does not change the fact they are religious based holidays.

          Would you say it is okay to shoot guns in public parks so long as “bullets” were changed to “hugs?”

          • Ziggy123

            I have to admit I’m having a hard time with your analogy… maybe because I keep imagining people going to a park and getting shot while trying to hug armed people…

            Anyways, words have to mean something. While most holidays celebrated in schools are not religious in nature( Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Spring Break (no longer around Easter), Presidents Day, Labor Day, MLK Day etc…), to change the words from Christmas -> Winter, you are specifically trying to get away from a “religious” word and making it generic. Just because you still get a small vacation/break doesn’t mean you are honoring anything other than yourself for good work and need an “end of the year” break or, how ever you want to define it. So you can celebrate New Years (not a religious holiday) by shooting people in a park who are trying to hug you.

            Again, I’m not saying Christians are being pushed out, but there are legitimate reasons why they may feel that way.

            • I think I see Brylar’s point. NYC public schools have a winter break and a spring break, but they always start right before Christmas and right before Good Friday, so it’s hard not to see the connection to Christian holidays, even if the name has changed.

              Also, for what it’s worth, the schools give a one or two day break for certain Jewish holidays, and starting this year Muslim ones too. I suppose someone could get offended that it’s called the Rosh Hashanah break but not the Christmas break, but honestly that seems petty to me. Especially since our breaks are longer. 🙂

              • wlinden

                I am so sick of those Romans forcing us to observe their stupid “New Year”, just because that was the day the inaugurated their officials!

            • Brylar Foustark

              No. Changing it from Christmas to Winter simply means you do not want to change anything except being honest.

              It is hilarious you are claiming there are “legitimate” reasons Christians feel they are being pushed out.

      • Dave G

        I can’t remember the last time I heard winter break associated with the word Christmas in public schools. By the time I was in high school in the early 80s it had become winter break.

        • Brylar Foustark

          Because there was never ever any association between Christmas and those breaks.

          • Mike Petrik

            You’re kidding, right? Or perhaps you are still in graduate school?

            • Brylar Foustark

              It was sarcasm.

          • Dave G.

            Actually when I was in elementary school, it was still very much Christmas Break (Have a Safe Christmas Break our school sign read). Heck, in first grade we learned about the Nativity story. In 2nd grade at our Christmas Concert (Christmas Concert continued to be used until the last years of my high schooling), a woman read a fictional narrative based on the famous ‘innkeeper’s wife.’ By Middle School it was changing. By high school, the Homeroom Christmas Decorating contest my Sister had taken part in eight years earlier was by then the Homeroom Holiday Decorating contest. Like it or not, agree with the change or not, it was what it was.

  • Brylar Foustark

    This is how pol pot, hitler and several others succeeded in convincing a population genocide was not only a moral action but mandatory to preserve their way of life.

    Allah is arabic for god and islam has far more tenets in common with christianity than judaism.

    When educators are accosted for educating it is time to raze the entire system and see what happens. No education is better than this idiotic xenophobia.

  • Dan13

    Mark,

    The assignment asked children to copy an Islamic statement of faith in Arabic calligraphy. I can understand why parents might be a little concerned since the assignment literally had students writing out that they believed in Islam.

    It wasn’t the standard lecture on the tenants of Islam or a standard lecture or art project on calligraphy.

    • Brylar Foustark

      That statement is one of the most universally stated tenets of Islam and is no different from the statement for Christianity of “Christ is lord.”

      It is not indoctrination to teach kids basic positions on a religion with over a billion adherents.

      • Dan13

        There is a major difference between saying, “Christ is Lord” and “Christians believe Christ is Lord”.

        I have absolutely no issue with teaching students about the tenants of Islam. I do think it is problematic to have public school students write a statement of faith of any religion from a first-person perpesctive, even if the statement is in a foreign language.

        • Brylar Foustark

          They were not writing a statement of faith in any form.

          • Dan13

            The statement, “There is no God but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” isn’t a statement of faith?

            • Brylar Foustark

              No. They dont even exist together in the same sentence in the Koran. If you say you are on a Christmas holiday does that make you automatically declare a religion as your own?

              • Rebecca Fuentes

                It’s more akin to quoting the beginning of the Creed than a passing mention of Christmas, “I believe in God, the Father, the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and in Jesus Chist, His only Son . . .” That doesn’t exist like that in the Bible, but it IS a statement of faith.

                • Brylar Foustark

                  You people keep blowing this so far out of proportion.

                  • Rebecca Fuentes

                    I’m actually not too chuffed about it, but I would consider the phrase being written as a statement of faith. I remember learning and listing the Seven Pillars in our world geography class–26 years ago. I would have enjoyed the artistic side of the calligraphy. I do think the reaction is out of proportion, but I also think the statement being copied is more serious than wishing someone a merry Christmas–as it should be.

                    • Brylar Foustark

                      in contrast how many christian songs, themes, activities, and recitals in addition to several aspects of US history have been a part of public ed?

      • wlinden

        “Islam has Five Pillars?”
        “What is the first Pillar/”
        “I can’t tell you, because it would turn you into a Muslim.”

    • sez

      So, it was more of an art project – calligraphy – than anything else.

      • Dan13

        It looked to be a review worksheet to be done after a section on Islam. The question was designed to raise awareness on calligraphy and to demonstrate it as an intricate art form. The exact instructions of the question though, weren’t exactly prudent.

  • wlinden

    Another report quotes the authorities as admitting that “no specific threat was made”. In other words, they went into full panic mode, not because anyone had threatened violence, but because they were afraid that somebody MIGHT. Shouldn’t we spare some opprobrium for them?

  • Peggy R

    I think it depends on several things, including the age of the children. Children not yet confirmed are by definition not solid in their faith. Our district skipped over Christianity when discussing Roman history for 6th grade. But they will discuss Islam and Buddhism after the new year. (I sub) I object as a parent. My kid is not able to handle this. He can’t id 10 commandments or 7 sacraments. If doesn’t know those, he need not know the 5 pillars of Islam. My PSR students every year are very confused about the relationships, if any, among the various faiths, when they started, why, how, by whom. Catholic children need to learn this from a Catholic perspective and how to consider these alternative beliefs from a Catholic perspective. I discuss this with 6th graders every year; this year, my son is one of them.

    Statements range from “According to the Christian bible, Jesus was born…”. Abraham is somewhat vaguely discussed as well in high school books. Alternatively there are more affirmative statements about Buddha, Mohammed, who they were, when they live, what they taught.

    I think older HS kids or adult college students are better equipped to handle this teaching.

    • Rebecca Fuentes

      I think schools assume that students are familiar with Christianity, so it doesn’t need to be looked at as closely. That ends up doing Christianity, and students who aren’t exposed to the basics of it, a disservice in a class like this.

      • Peggy R

        I agree.

  • Dave G.

    No big deal. Happens all the time. This particular time it was people angry at Islam being represented in the schools. Often it’s Christianity. Sometimes Halloween. Sometimes the Pledge of Allegiance. In all things a nation of busy bodies either seeks to impose values on one another, or criticize everyone for doing what we often turn around and do ourselves. A sad mess we’ve left to our posterity.

  • Bret Thoman Ofs

    The statement the teacher had them write was the Islamic Shahada, which is the first pillar required by the Islamic religion. It is the creed stated by converts to Islam in which they declare their belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as God’s prophet. In so doing (albeit said with conviction), they renounce their former beliefs.

  • BobRN

    Considering the regular firestorms over separation of church and state and the ubiquitous headlines about religion in public schools, it’s difficult for me to believe that a teacher of any subject, even World Religions, could be so obtuse as to not see that an assignment asking students to copy a basic statement of faith of one of the world’s largest religions, regardless of language, would raise difficulties. On what planet does this teacher live?

    Can you imagine a public school Latin instructor asking students to copy a prayer from the Roman Missal? Or a Greek instructor asking students to copy the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed? It wouldn’t happen and, if it did, the instructor would be properly admonished.

    And the school administrators closing the school because of concerns for security? Good night nurse! Is there anyone left in public education with a semblance of sanity?

    • Kurt 20008

      The point was to teach calligraphy. I think if a student could reproduce some of the letters from a Book of Hours from the middle ages, they would get an “A”

      • BobRN

        You’re comparing apples and oranges. Letters from a middle ages Book of Hours is not the same thing as a statement of faith of any religious tradition. Not even close. A proper comparison would be to have public school students of a classical Greek language class write out “I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord … God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, etc …” in an effort to teach the kids the intricacies of classical Greek writing. You think maybe the Jewish, Muslim and other
        non-Christian students and their parents wouldn’t get worked up by that, or that they would be over-reacting to do so?

        Again, if she didn’t think this would cause a ruckus, perhaps she’s too clueless to be an effective teacher.

  • Kurt 20008

    This school is actually worse than this. They also force kids to learn Roman numerals, promoting Papism.