Tennessee Reviews Its Social Studies Curriculum



May 10, 2016

Islamic indoctrination of children in public schools is a concern for parents across the country.

As we previously reported, educators have been presenting fundamental Islamic beliefs as facts to students. Across the nation, students have been forced to recite the Five Pillars of Islam, make Islamic prayer rugs, “pretend [they] are a Muslim,” and perform other Islamic rituals.

In Tennessee, students were forced to orally recite, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger”—the Islamic conversion creed. According to some reports from concerned parents, notably absent from some classrooms teaching Islam was any mention of Christianity.

Parents were rightfully concerned about the religious education of their children. We received thousands of contacts from Tennessee citizens expressing their concern about what was being taught in their local schools.
The issue of Islamic indoctrination in schools had to be exposed and confronted.
We took immediate action.

In response to the overwhelming number of questions and concerns from citizens in Tennessee, we launched an aggressive advocacy campaign. To this end, we sent open records requests asking schools to explain exactly what students are being taught. Within days of launching our campaign, the Chairman of the State Board of Education in Tennessee announced that the state’s social studies standards were to be reviewed two years earlier than was originally scheduled. This was an important victory in our effort to ensure that public schools are complying with the constitutional limits set by the First Amendment.

We have continued to monitor the situation and, just last week, we submitted a public comment to the Tennessee State Board of Education regarding the Tennessee social studies standards review. In our letter to the Board, we explained the law surrounding how public schools may posit religious content.

We stated:

A public school may teach that Muslims believe that Allah is the one true God. However, it is entirely inappropriate to teach that Allah is, in fact, the one true God or require students to provide this as a factual answer on a test, quiz, or other assessment. Even teaching the tenets of what Muslims believe may have limits if these tenets are favored over those of other religions. For instance, schools cannot require students to learn the major tenets of Islam while disparaging Christianity.

We asked the Board to clarify Tennessee’s social studies standards to preclude any instruction that promotes Islam or treats Islam more favorably than Christianity. It is our goal that the Board implements our suggestions and works to craft educational standards that are consistent with the First Amendment.

Here at the ACLJ, we will continue to fight for the preservation of both the Religious Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment not just within our public schools, but within our country as a whole.