A California mom stirred up controversy when she posted a photo on Facebook of her response to her seventh-grade son’s homework assignment about Islam. The World History class assignment required students to list the five pillars of Islam, and the homework included a bar code that allowed them to listen to a YouTube video of the call to prayer at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.
Tara Cali was not happy with the assignment and wrote a response on her son’s homework sheet stating, “My son WILL not be a part of this in any sort of way. This is bad teaching material. He will NOT partake. If you have a problem with it, call our lawyer.” Tara listed several Bible verses to support her stance and asked why her son had never received an assignment on Christian beliefs and practices.
While California’s state-wide curriculum allows religions to be taught only in the context of history, Tara believes that the Islamic lesson plan doesn’t stay within those parameters. She feels that the school is showing favoritism to Islam over Christianity and other religions. After encountering some critics on social media, Tara further explained that she took issue with Qur’an scripture that is included in the textbook and homework.
David Barkley, Southeastern Area & National Religious Freedom Counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, said that as long as religion is being taught from a secular manner, it’s permissible. “To teach about Islam, you have to teach about what Muslim people believe and what the faith teaches. As long as you are not saying, ‘this is a valid religious belief’ or ‘this is the truth,’ then it is constitutionally permissible.”
Tara and her supporters argue that Christianity is being scrubbed from the public education system and that students are being force-fed Islam through lessons disguised as history, warming kids up through their school years to accept Islam.
Tara is concerned that Christianity is being underrepresented while Islam is getting favorable treatment in the classroom. She wants the school to get new textbooks and bring equality of religion to the educational system.
“My intention is to bring light to this situation that our books make no sense. History teachers are not qualified to teach religion. Scripture doesn’t belong in public schools. If we are going to have it, then I want all of it,” Tara explained.
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