A Virginia school district is defending a classroom assignment that required students to practice calligraphy by writing the Muslim statement of faith: “There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
Angry parents claim that students at Riverheads High School in Staunton, Virginia, weren’t given the translation of the calligraphy assignment, which was in Arabic and was handed out during a world geography class.
The school district convened a meeting on December 11th to discuss the assignment with outraged parents.
One parent, Kimberly Herndon, organized a forum on Monday at Good News Ministries church in Greenville, Virginia that saw around 100 people show up to discuss the issue. Herndon unleashed a strong rebuke against the school assignment, the News Leader reported.
“That’s why we need to join together. If my truth can not be spoken in schools, I don’t want false doctrine spoken in schools. That’s what keeps it even across the board,” she said, taking specific aim at the teacher. ”She gave up the Lord’s time. She gave it up and gave it to Muhammad.”
Others agreed that similar assignments surrounding the Bible would have not been permitted, and questioned why a Muslim-themed assignment was allowed. But district officials have said that there was no attempt to indoctrinate children.
In a statement provided to Fox News, the district said:
“Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief.
“The statement presented as an example of the calligraphy was not translated for students, nor were students asked to translate it, recite it or otherwise adopt or pronounce it as a personal belief.”
While they insisted it was all about the art and not about the theology, Fox News contributor Todd Starnes argues that it doesn’t seem likely for the teacher to coincidently pick the Islamic statement of faith out of all the Arabic words and phrases that could have been selected.
The Schilling Show reported female students at the school were also invited to try on a headscarf during a discussion about the modest garbs that Muslim women often wear, which also left parents heavily frustrated.
Students were reportedly shown copies of the Koran as well, though the News Leader reported that the assignment is within acceptable standards for the Virginia Standards of Learning when it comes to exploring monotheistic religions.
The situation first made headlines after some students refused to take part in the assignment and parents subsequently caught wind of it. Some families are reportedly so angry that they will not permit their kids to complete the course with the teacher in question.