A FEW years back Caleigh Wood, above, a student at La Plata High School in Charles County, Maryland, enrolled in a state-mandated World History course, but as a devout Christian took issue with two parts of the course that dealt with Islam.
According to this report, in a “Muslim World” Powerpoint presentation she was told that a Muslim’s faith “is stronger than the average Christian” and that she was required to write the shahada, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” in a fill-in-the-blank worksheet.
Wood claimed that this violated her First Amendment Rights, and, in 2016, sued Principal Evelyn Arnold and Vice Principal Shannon Morris – and lost.
Both the Federal District Court and the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Arnold and Morris, ruling the teachings at issue:
Did not impermissibly endorse any religion nor did they compel Wood to profess any belief.
The Thomas More Law Center – mission: “to restore and defend America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values)” – launched the lawsuit on Wood’s behalf, and after losing the case announced in May of this year that it would lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court.
It filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the Supreme Court:
To decide whether any legal basis exists to allow public schools to discriminate against Christianity while at the same time promote Islam.
Yesterday (Tuesday) Wood and TMLC suffered another blow when the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.
In a May statement Richard Thompson, TMLC’s President and Chief Counsel, observed:
Under the guise of teaching history or social studies, public schools across America are promoting the religion of Islam in ways that would never be tolerated for Christianity or any other religion.
I’m not aware of any school which has forced a Muslim student to write the Lord’s Prayer or John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
On the other hand, schools have become willing instruments of Islamic indoctrination, and in Caleigh Wood’s case, the weapon of choice was the PowerPoint presentation. Caleigh and her 11th grade classmates were taught:
• “Most Muslim’s faith is stronger than the average Christian.”
• “Islam at heart is a peaceful religion.”
• Jihad is a “personal struggle in devotion to Islam, especially involving spiritual discipline.”
• “To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism.”
• “Men are the managers of the affairs of women” and “Righteous women are therefore obedient.”
Those statements came directly from the PowerPoint presentation to Caleigh’s class.Thompson continued:
Many public schools have become a hot bed of Islamic propaganda. Teaching Islam in schools has gone far beyond a basic history lesson. Prompted by zealous Islamic activism and emboldened by confusing court decisions, schools are now bending over backwards to promote Islam while at the same time denigrate Christianity.
We are asking the Supreme Court to provide the necessary legal guidance to resolve the insidious discrimination against Christians in our public schools.
Representing the Charles County school officials at the US court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit earlier this year, attorney Andrew Scott, said the ruling sends an important message to school officials throughout the state affirming their discretion to teach about religion.
Religion is an integral part of history. You can’t ignore it. The key is to teach it from a secular perspective – and not to proselytise.
But Thompson insisted that the school’s lesson clearly endorsed Islam, denigrated Christianity and amounted to:
Forced speech of a young Christian girl. This is unequal treatment of Christianity by the school system.
The lesson about Islam lasted five days in a year-long course when Wood was in 11th grade at La Plata High School in 2014-2015.
Wood’s parents argued that the lesson lacked any secular purpose and had:
The effect of promoting and endorsing Islam.
In its ruling, the court found that assignment involving the shahada was meant to assess whether students understood the “beliefs and practices” of Muslims. The task was factual, and students
Were not required to memorise the shahada, to recite it, or even to write the complete statement of faith.
The court’s opinion noted that the school’s content specialist had testified that the language included in the slide about the strength of the Muslim faith relative to Christianity was “inappropriate” and that he would have advised the teacher not to include it in the lesson.
Still the court found the slide did not advocate a particular belief system and was relevant to the overall secular lessons being taught.
Charles County Schools Superintendent Kimberly A Hill said that the slide is no longer used in the school’s curriculum and that:
We don’t teach religion. What we are teaching is world history.