A Clash Over Teaching Islam to 7th Graders in Tennessee

The American Center for Law & Justice sent out open-records requests to all 146 public school districts in Tennessee to find out more about how seventh-graders are being taught about Islam.

CeCe Heil, an attorney with the ACLJ, said the law firm that routinely handles cases supporting conservative and Christian principles is only involved because so many parents have expressed concerns, to put it mildly.

Parents from at least three counties in Tennessee have contacted the ACLJ for help, according to Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the group.

But 80 of the districts, which do operate at the behest of taxpayers, are using a form letter supplied by another legal firm to block the requests for information.

And, Sekulow pointed out, this is not just an isolated problem in three counties of Tennessee.

“Earlier this year, we reported that public school students in Madison, Wisconsin were given an assignment to ‘pretend you are Muslim,’ while public school students in Florida were instructed to recite the Five Pillars of Islam as a prayer, make Islamic prayer rugs, and perform other Muslim rituals,” Sekulow wrote on the ACLJ blog. “Suspiciously, the textbook discussing Islam had chapters missing. Which chapters? Those on Christianity and Judaism.”

“To put this in perspective, imagine the outcry from the ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), and other leftist and angry atheist organizations if a study guide stated, ‘Jesus is the Son of God,’ and forced children to recite the Lord’s Prayer,” he added.

“These organizations would be beside themselves claiming indoctrination of our public school students. But where are these organizations now?”

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen has supported the 20 pages of middle-school Islam curriculum.

But she has also agreed to review the program.

"In light of recent concerns from educators and stakeholders,” McQueen told the Tennessean,  “the department has asked the State Board of Education to move the social studies standards review process up ahead of the traditional six-year cycle."