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Commentary

Christian Student Forced To Write Islamic Profession of Faith by School Appeals to SCOTUS

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A lawsuit by a Christian student in Maryland who was forced to write the Shahada — the Muslim profession of faith — as part of an assignment is appealing to the Supreme Court after her case was rejected by a federal appeals court.

According to Education Week, the lawsuit alleges that officials at La Plata High School “concealed that their high school World History class promoted Islam” and that both student Caleigh Wood and her parents “were harshly punished for voicing concerns about the desecration of their Christian beliefs and heritage and the promotion of the Islamic faith” through the course.

The First Amendment lawsuit was dismissed by a federal appeals court in February. Now, with the help of the Thomas More Law Center, which is representing the family, the Woods appealing to the Supreme Court to hear their case.

Their argument is that the class violated the establishment clause.

“The facts in this case are not in dispute. Petitioner Caleigh Wood is a Christian,” the petition, filed earlier this week, reads. “During the 2014-2015 school year, Ms. Wood was a junior at La Plata High School, a public high school in Charles County, Maryland. To fulfill a requirement for graduation, Petitioner enrolled in World History.

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“As part of the history class, Respondents required Ms. Wood to complete a section on the Muslim World in which she encountered the religion of Islam. To teach the unit, Respondents used a PowerPoint slide to describe the Muslim faith. … One of the slides taught the students that ‘Most Muslim’s [sic] faith is stronger than the average Christian.’

“In addition, Ms. Wood was required to profess in writing that ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.’ This statement is known as the shahada. The shahada is the Islamic conversion creed, the declaration a person recites to convert to Islam and then prays and repeats during the Muslim call to prayer.”

Education Week reported that school officials “declined to excuse Wood from the unit, and John Wood directed his daughter not to complete the assignment, which resulted in [a] lower percentage grade for the course, but did not affect her letter grade.

“The Woods sued under the First Amendment, and lost in a federal district court. In its Feb. 11 decision in Wood v. Arnold, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, Va., also ruled for the Charles County district and its officials.”

Do you think the Supreme Court should take up this case?

Richard Thompson, Thomas More Law Center president and chief counsel Richard Thompson said in a statement, “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.

“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.'”

Thompson said the school’s unit on Islam, which was part of a mandatory class, went far beyond education and broke the establishment clause.

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“Many public schools have become a hotbed of Islamic propaganda,” he said. “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 backwards 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.”

Whether it rises to the level of propaganda is another issue entirely, but the fact remains that if this were the kind of education that was happening about Christianity, everyone would be — quite rightly — losing their minds.

Nobody has ever been forced to write out the sinner’s prayer in a public school class. Our children aren’t taught that Christians are more faithful than, say, Buddhists or Muslims. None of this would occur, because it’s unconstitutional.

Why, then, is this OK? We’ll see what the Supreme Court says if the justices take on the case, but I have a hard time finding a reason for the lower court decision to stand.

The Western Journal has reached out to the school district for comment but has not yet received a response. We will update this article if and when we do.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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