In the past month Tennessee parents of middle school children have become aware of a pro-Islam agenda that we have allowed to seep into our state curriculum, standards and textbooks, used in the classroom. In Maury County students were expected to recite the first of the Five Pillars of Islam, which is the Islamic prayer of confession known as the Shahada: “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His prophet.” Other similar assignments have taken place in other counties across Tennessee.
In White County, the Pearson textbook used in seventh grade classrooms contains thirty seven pages on Islam in a chapter entitled “The Islamic World” with another ten pages also devoted to a largely positive presentation of Islam. There is no similar teaching of Christianity or Judaism. Page 87 of the Pearson textbook specifically claims that the Arab Muslims spread the Islamic Empire “peacefully” both within and outside its borders, and that “religious toleration” was a key factor in that expansion. Those statements are historically inaccurate and conflict with the reality of how Islamic countries treat those of other faiths. That same textbook is being used in districts across Tennessee.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates and was an unindicted co-conspirator in a fundraising scheme involving Hamas, has distributed school materials to teachers in Tennessee for use in the middle school classroom. Representative Sheila Butt and State Senator Joey Hensley have recently proposed legislation that would prevent teaching religious doctrine prior to tenth grade. In addition their legislation would prevent any religion being taught that emphasizes it over another. CAIR has opposes this legislation and called Rep. Butt an “Islamaphobe,” despite Islam not being mentioned in the bill.
The fault of the pro-Islam tilt in Tennessee middle schools is NOT the fault of the teachers. It is the fault of the standards adopted by the state and IMPOSED on the teachers. In fact, in the 7th grade standards ten of the seventy five learning objectives for the year are focused on Islam (13%). Conversely, there are only two learning objectives related to Christianity, and then only focused on the historical aspects rather than the tenets of the religion. The 6th grade standards devote ONE of the seventy two learning objectives to Christianity, or a little over 1%.
The lack of fairness, balance and accuracy in these lessons is unacceptable and should be changed immediately. When new standards are imposed next year the pro-Islam tilt should be erased. Finally, the textbooks that promote a false, misleading and dangerously inaccurate presentation of Islam should immediately be removed from Tennessee classrooms.
There is a real and present danger to the world from radical-Islam, as illustrated by the ever increasing violence in Muslim countries and that agenda driven violence is being exported to Western Europe and the United States by radical elements within Islam. Our communities, and our children, should be awakened to the reality of radical-Islam now and throughout history, not provide propaganda intended to deceive us into believing that it is not now nor has ever been a threat to other cultures and religions. History, and current events, tell us otherwise.
Joe Carr is a former State Representative and candidate for U.S. Senate from Rutherford County.