The Supreme Court has ruled that public schools can teach about religion but they cannot indoctrinate students into a religion. So many schools simply avoid the possible controversy altogether by not teaching about religion at all.
That is why the latest controversy is hard to imagine. The Christian Action Network says that the U.S. Department of Education is funding an Islamic education program in the public schools that crosses the line from academics to indoctrination.
I had Martin Mawyer, president of the organization, on my radio program to talk about the program known as “Access Islam.” The curriculum includes 10 lesson plans on the “Five Pillars of Islam” and “Prayer in Muslim Life” and “Ramadan Observance.” It is worth mentioning that a search for similar lesson plans) covering Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism found nothing.
Teachers are to quiz students on such questions as, “What does a Muslim prayer sound like?” and “What are some of the things that Muslims say while they are praying?” Students are expected to construct a poster on the “Five Pillars of Islam.” These are then posted in the classroom and in the halls. You can only imagine the reaction of the ACLU and other civil libertarians if students were asked to make a poster of the Ten Commandments and then put those posters up in their room or in the school hallways.
The Christian Action Network send a demand letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss as well as to other officials. It articulates the discrepancies between how Islam is treated in the lesson plans and how others religious faiths are ignored. They demand that all these materials be removed from the classroom and that public funds are no longer used to promote the Muslim faith.
The materials certainly seem to have crossed constitutional lines, but it is possible that nobody wants to speak up for fear of being labelled as Islamophobic. Thankfully some do see that this is a clear example of indoctrination.