When a Maryland school required students to affirm the Islamic prayer declaring Allah is the only god, a Christian girl was given a zero for the course because she refused to violate her faith. However, instead of taking her failing grade, she decided to fight back.
When Caleigh Wood was a junior, her teacher at La Plata High School handed out an assignment concerning the tenets of Islam. Wood read the curriculum only to discover that much of it contained intellectually dishonest information. However, the final straw came when the young woman saw what the school was forcing students to declare.
According to WND, the World History course not only biasedly taught that Muslims have more faith than Christians but also required students to profess in writing that Allah is the one true god. The curriculum made multiple implications that could have been straight out of an imam’s sermon.
- “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.”
- “Islam at heart 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.”
Feeling convicted, Wood told her teacher that she couldn’t recite the Shahada, the Islamic conversion prayer that declares Allah the only god, because it would violate her Christian beliefs. However, when she tried to explain that the assignment infringed upon her constitutional right to religious freedom, she was subsequently punished with a zero.
Although Wood was expected to shut up and accept her failing grade, she wasn’t one of the faithless Christians about which the Islamic lessons apparently taught. Instead of lying down, she and her family took the only action that would get the school’s attention.
CBN News reports that Caleigh Wood and her family contacted the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) and filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming it had violated the First Amendment by compelling the girl to profess faith in a religion other than her own. Both the Federal District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the school. However, the law center decided to take the case to the Supreme Court.
The TMLC argued that the school’s curriculum is not only discriminating against Christianity by putting forth biased opinions as facts but also promoting Islam in the classroom. They have reiterated that taxpayer dollars are funding religious indoctrination in public schools.
“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.'”
While the TMLC asserts the lessons endorsed Islam that equated to “forced speech of a young Christian girl,” the school maintains that the lessons were taught in a secular manner “and did not compel Wood to profess any belief.” In defense of the school, Attorney Andrew Scott insisted that religion must be taught in schools, as it is inseparable from history.
“Religion is an integral part of history. You can’t ignore it,” said Scott, who argued the case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. “The key is to teach it from a secular perspective – and not to proselytize.”
However, many argue that only one side of Islam and history is being taught — a side that’s been whitewashed. Still, the courts have opted to leave the lessons up to the discretion of those teaching them.
Caleigh Wood has since graduated, but her case is still pending until the Supreme Court has issued a ruling. Although the final decision won’t affect her academically, she continues to pursue a change in the curriculum for future high school students.
The curriculum provided a disturbing look into the religious indoctrination occurring in our education system. While the teaching of written tenets is one aspect, presenting biased opinions as facts in order to promote one faith over another is unacceptable.