Parents of children in a Nashville suburb public middle school are curious as to why children are learning about Islam in their world history class, while,according to some parents, Christianity is "pointedly ignored."
One of the parents, Brandee Porterfield, said her seventh-grade daughter, who attends Spring Hill Middle School, came home with an assignment concerning the Five Pillars of Islam and other teachings of the religion. The first and most important pillar is summarized as: "There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God," writes Eric Owens of The Daily Caller.
When Porterfield's daughter was required to write "Allah is the only God," Porterfield was concerned that Christianity had been omitted in the history class.
"I have big problem with that. From a historical point of view, that's a lot of history these kids are missing," Porterfield explained. "Also, for them to spend three weeks on Islam after having skipped Christianity, it seems to be that they are making a choice about which religion to discuss."
When Porterfield spoke with her daughter's teacher she found that the teacher was also not happy about having to skip Christianity and focus on Islam for three weeks. The teacher added that knowledge of the fundamentals of Islam is included in the Tennessee education standards, so she felt she had no choice but to teach the mandated curriculum. Joy Ellis, another seventh-grader's mother, said:
"I honestly don't want my child learning about Islam at all, but if they've got to learn about it, I would like for them to learn about the historical aspects of it and definitely nothing about the religion."
Ellis continued by saying that if other religions are taught, Christianity should most certainly be taught as well, because the US is "overwhelmingly a Christian nation." According to a 2014 Pew poll, that 81% of Tennessee's residents identify as Christians. Only about 1% say they are Muslim.
School district officials, however, say that it is difficult to teach world history without presenting some basic understanding of the tenets of world religions. Maury County Public Schools middle school supervisor Jan Hanvey said explaining the Five Pillars of Islam is a one-day portion of the seventh-grade curriculum with the goal of giving students "a richer perspective."
Hanvey said the three weeks of study includes the culture, economics, geography, and government that are influenced by the religion. One day was spent on Islam, and an overview of Buddhism and Hinduism will come later. He also stated that Christianity is studied later when the history class curriculum focuses on America and the Age of Exploration, according to TruthRevolt.
Greg Jinkerson, reporting for Spring Hill Home Page, relayed that Maury County Schools Director Chris Marczak wrote on Facebook that:
"The assignment covered some sensitive topics that are of importance to Islamic religion and caused some confusion around whether we are asking students to believe in or simply understand the religion. It is our job as a public school system to educate our students on world history in order to be ready to compete in a global society, not to endorse one religion over another or indoctrinate."
Maury resident Bob Crigger said that Marczek's remarks "skirted the issue" by suggesting that parents take their concerns up with principals. Crigger says that the school board and the director of schools make policies. He has asked for a town hall meeting with the school board and director for schools so that parents and residents may speak openly rather than having their concerns hidden by the politically correct statement made by Marczak.