T Nation

Prayer Causes School District Shutdown


#1

But this time it’s ISLAMIC prayer.

An idiot Virginia teacher made her students copy the Muslim statement of faith known as the “shahada” as part of an assignment, Augusta County Schools shut down the entire school system Friday when a backlash erupted on social media. Holy dogshit. And yeah, we are just conspiracy theorists.


#2

It’s a world geography class. Part of the curriculum is an in-depth look at the various major religions of the world; specific prayers are of course foundational in many religions…I remember learning about the Lord’s Prayer in mine. No one is making these kids forgo pork for the day, get on all fours, and pray facing Mecca. The assignment was a learning experience that, within this context, is well within the scope of the class.


#3

There’s a lack of information to make an accurate assessment here, but shutting down the entire school seems to be a bit of an overreaction.

You can, in fact, study religion(s) and use religious texts AND artifacts in the classroom for a secular educational purpose tied to a legitimate facet of curriculum. So yes, reading Bible passages, translating parts of the Koran, or examining facets of the Torah, for example, are all permissible if there is no proselytizing involved (e.g., world religions, English as literature, or social studies classes). I’ve had world geography students examine English translated excerpts from the Bible, the Koran, the Hebrew Bible, the Vedas, the Tripitaka, and the Analects of Confucius.

This particular assignment that is steeped in controversy in Virginia, at face value, could have been completely constitutional. Though not the best source from the article, this is problematic, if true: “Herndon also said on Facebook that the teacher â??has passed that Koran around that room every single day since the beginning.”" If that’s the case, and that indeed happened, it may be harder for the teacher to make an academic defense, as it starts to point more towards potential proselytizing. The facts will have to be investigated.


#4

[quote]JR249 wrote:
if true: “Herndon also said on Facebook that the teacher â??has passed that Koran around that room every single day since the beginning.”" If that’s the case, and that indeed happened, it may be harder for the teacher to make an academic defense, as it starts to point more towards potential proselytizing. The facts will have to be investigated.[/quote]

If that’s indeed true, I could see the reasoning behind it. There is so much disdain for Muslims in the US today, perhaps she simply wanted to direct a little more time toward dispelling some of that hate through education.


#5

[quote]JR249 wrote:
There’s a lack of information to make an accurate assessment here, but shutting down the entire school seems to be a bit of an overreaction.

You can, in fact, study religion(s) and use religious texts AND artifacts in the classroom for a secular educational purpose tied to a legitimate facet of curriculum. So yes, reading Bible passages, translating parts of the Koran, or examining facets of the Torah, for example, are all permissible if there is no proselytizing involved (e.g., world religions, English as literature, or social studies classes). I’ve had world geography students examine English translated excerpts from the Bible, the Koran, the Hebrew Bible, the Vedas, the Tripitaka, and the Analects of Confucius.

This particular assignment that is steeped in controversy in Virginia, at face value, could have been completely constitutional. Though not the best source from the article, this is problematic, if true: “Herndon also said on Facebook that the teacher â??has passed that Koran around that room every single day since the beginning.”" If that’s the case, and that indeed happened, it may be harder for the teacher to make an academic defense, as it starts to point more towards potential proselytizing. The facts will have to be investigated.[/quote]

Yeah, it was an over reaction. It was an inappropriate assignment, but the assignment should have just been trashed and a different one given. If the teacher was aware of what it said or intentionally set that up she should be disciplined. Not fired or anything, just written up or something.

BUT that’s the way it is nowadays. The muslims have stirred up such a shit storm in the world, especially the west, the very mention of them gets people’s assholes tighter than a vice.

Somebody should try this experiment. Go to a crowded mall and yell “Christian!” 3 times and see how people react. Then go to another crowded mall or return later when different people are their and yell “Muslim!” 3 times.
My guess is that in the first instance, people will just think you’re a nut. The second instance I am betting people will react very differently. They will be either afraid or angry or both. I bet you will clear a space faster than if you let a nasty fart go in a crowd.


#6

[quote]pat wrote:

Yeah, it was an over reaction. It was an inappropriate assignment, but the assignment should have just been trashed and a different one given. If the teacher was aware of what it said or intentionally set that up she should be disciplined. Not fired or anything, just written up or something.

[/quote]

Why is it an inappropriate assignment, within the context that the class was in particular phase of the course when students are being educated on the various religions (and their prayers and texts) of the world?

Yes, the scenario you mentioned would probably play out just as you say. As such, now more than ever is a time in which education is needed.


#7

It was an assignment, meaning not optional and was graded.

If a student objected and refused to write “There is no God but Allah…” They would be punished. Look at that damn prayer. The ACLU would have a field day if it was John 3:16


#8

[quote]NorCal916 wrote:
It was an assignment, meaning not optional and was graded.

If a student objected and refused to write “There is no God but Allah…” They would be punished. Look at that damn prayer. The ACLU would have a field day if it was John 3:16[/quote]

It’s be very surprising if they DIDN’T have assignments from the bible, again, given the very specific context of that particular phase the class.


#9

[quote]NorCal916 wrote:
It was an assignment, meaning not optional and was graded.

If a student objected and refused to write “There is no God but Allah…” They would be punished. Look at that damn prayer. The ACLU would have a field day if it was John 3:16[/quote]

I think the ACLU is fairly consistent personally. They have defended Christians too. Regardless of the prayer chosen, there would have been little, if any, grounds for an actual suit unless substantial evidence of proselytizing was evident.

You could use virtually any of those prayers for a legitimate academic purpose, because understanding conversion, entrance into, or otherwise regular adherence to a religious dogma is actually a core part of understanding that particular religion. Hence, in a certain context, any of them are acceptable. The school case law is out there for those interested in the legal nuances.


#10

Fair enough.

But this is a high school WORLD GEOGRAPHY class, not a college comparative religion course.


#11

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#12

I suppose it’s laughable if you find willful ignorance laudable.


#13

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#14

[quote]pushharder wrote:

[quote]TX iron wrote:
I suppose it’s laughable if you find willful ignorance laudable.
[/quote]

Yes. Yes, I do.

(fixed)[/quote]

Er, you seem to be the one against learning. Obviously, there is a small percentage of Muslims who are at in opposition to the modern world, but ostracizing the other majority is only fuel for radicals’ fire. Education is key to maintaining higher ground, and allows for the reasoning to separate enemy from friend. A good buddy of mine had his life saved by a fellow infantryman, a Muslim, with whom he fought alongside in Iraq. This man gets to return home to a country which a small but vocal population hates him, and where mosques are being desecrated.


#15

I did a similar work sheet in “Global Studies” class in 9th grade, in like '95. We wrote out the 5 Pillars. There was a picture of a bunch of Muslim dudes making their pilgrimage in our text book.

I’m sure the kids in Staunton did the exact same assignment last year.


#16

[quote]NorCal916 wrote:
Fair enough.

But this is a high school WORLD GEOGRAPHY class, not a college comparative religion course. [/quote]

I teach high school WORLD GEOGRAPHY, so I’m not sure what your point is here, other than you presenting statements that would lead the reader to assume that you personally presume to know the curriculum, or how it needs to be taught, better than the professional educators hired to teach it.

I don’t think learning more intricate details about major world religions is inappropriate. Religion is one of the major social institutions, it’s universal in its existence, and it’s a large component of so many cultures, though we all know belief systems vary (e.g., animistic religions, theistic religions and ethicalist religions).


#17

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
I did a similar work sheet in “Global Studies” class in 9th grade, in like '95. We wrote out the 5 Pillars. There was a picture of a bunch of Muslim dudes making their pilgrimage in our text book.

I’m sure the kids in Staunton did the exact same assignment last year.
[/quote]

I believe I did the exact same back in 7 or 8th grade or something. Spent a week or two learning about Islam. Forgot about it as soon as it no longer mattered in terms of tests.

We also spent a couple of weeks learning about Japan and actually played a really ridiculous strategy game (that my teacher came up with I think) based on Japanese feudalism.

I’m… honestly not sure why people are making such a big deal out of this.


#18

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#19

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
I did a similar work sheet in “Global Studies” class in 9th grade, in like '95. We wrote out the 5 Pillars. There was a picture of a bunch of Muslim dudes making their pilgrimage in our text book.

I’m sure the kids in Staunton did the exact same assignment last year.

[/quote]

Same here, in 8th grade, at a Christian Academy.


#20

[quote]TX iron wrote:

[quote]pat wrote:

Yeah, it was an over reaction. It was an inappropriate assignment, but the assignment should have just been trashed and a different one given. If the teacher was aware of what it said or intentionally set that up she should be disciplined. Not fired or anything, just written up or something.

[/quote]

Why is it an inappropriate assignment, within the context that the class was in particular phase of the course when students are being educated on the various religions (and their prayers and texts) of the world?

Yes, the scenario you mentioned would probably play out just as you say. As such, now more than ever is a time in which education is needed.[/quote]

It’s inappropriate because it’s a Social Studies class, not a class on islam. And the assignment requires the student to make a core statement of belief in ‘There is no God but Allah’. If the teacher had the students writing ‘Jesus is Lord’ you can bet the left would have had a world class hissy fit.