Can a public school force a Christian student to recite an Islamic prayer of conversion and say there is “No God, but Allah?” A Maryland school is defending its actions at the Supreme Court after the student fought back.
Four years ago a high school student who is Christian was forced by her teacher at La Plata High School in La Plata, Md., to recite the Islamic conversion creed – the Shahada – as part of a written assignment. She was required to write the Islamic creed, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
The World History course also taught that “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian’s.”
Caleigh Wood refused to complete the assignment, believing that is it is a sin to profess by word or in writing, that there is any other god except the Christian God.
School officials refused to let her opt out of the course which included the mandatory Islamic prayer, and as a result she received a lower percentage grade for the course, but that did not affect her letter grade.
The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) on behalf of the Wood family filed a lawsuit, claiming the school had violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause and the girl’s right not to be forced to profess faith in another religion. Both the Federal District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the high school’s Islamic curriculum.
Now, the TMLC has appealed the case to the Supreme Court asking the high court to decide whether any legal basis exists to allow public schools to discriminate against Christianity while at the same time promoting Islam.
“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 said in a 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.'”
Using a Powerpoint presentation in the class, the students at the school were also taught:
- Islam 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.”
“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.