State schools have no business imposing religion on their students. This should be a simple, obvious, and needless statement.
Apparently, as the case of Caleigh Wood and La Plata High School demonstrates, it’s not.
Four years ago, Wood was forced by her teacher at her La Plata, Maryland school to recite the Islamic confessional creed, the Shahada, as part of a written assignment.
And in case you had any doubts that this was compelled speech that would have violated Wood’s own religious beliefs, one of Islam’s “five pillars,” the Shahada is meant to profess the belief that “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
Any teacher who compels his or her students to do something to which they sincerely object on religious grounds should be ashamed of themselves. We allow children to opt out of dissecting frogs, why on earth should reciting a prayer be all but mandatory?
As if that weren’t bad enough, the global history course Wood took also allegedly taught that “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian’s.”
Now, sadly, it’s worth mentioning that if the supposed originator of that statement were comparing devout Muslims to lukewarm, comfortable, cultural Christians in the West, they may tragically have a case. How else would Islamic prayer find its way into the public school system, anyway?
The comparison won’t hold up for a moment, however, if one has the intellectual honesty to compare the average nominal Muslim to a Christian in literally any Muslim majority state. Many Christians are still incredibly devout and prepared to lay down their lives for Christ, and even those who may never be faced with that choice still have very strong faith.
When tasked with professing Allah’s superiority, Wood refused to complete the assignment, having no room in her conscience for the profession of faith to another god, even if just for a school assignment.
If only we all would demonstrate our commitment to Christ so boldly!
The Wood family filed a lawsuit, represented by the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), arguing that the school had violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause and students’ rights not to be forced to profess faith in another religion. However, both the Federal District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the school.
I wonder where the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who has made a name for themselves pouncing on even a shadow of Christian expression in any public school or building, was when all this was happening, but I digress.
Last month, the TMLC ratcheted up their efforts by taking the issue to the Supreme Court, according to a statement on the organization’s website.
“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,” TMLC President and Chief Counsel Richard Thompson wrote in the statement. “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.’”
Thompson also noted that students in Wood’s class were taught that Islam is a peaceful religion, that jihad is a “personal struggle in devotion to Islam, especially involving spiritual discipline,” that “…Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism,” and that “men are the managers of the affairs of women” and “righteous women are therefore obedient.”
“Many public schools have become a hotbed of Islamic propaganda,” Thompson continued. “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 backward 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,” he concluded.
Let’s hope that the justices of the Supreme Court will hear this case. It should be our prayer that they do, and that the continued assault and marginalization of believing Christians in the public square finally be put down.
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