A Maryland couple is suing Charles County Schools in federal court after objecting to their daughter’s world history lesson involving Islam.
The lawsuit filed last week by Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center on behalf of John Kevin and Melissa Wood names Charles County schools, its board, and the principal and vice principal of La Plata High School as defendants.
John Wood, a former Marine, and his wife Melissa Wood, have filed a civil rights complaint against La Plata High School, alleging their daughter — identified only as C.W. — spent one day in a modern history class studying Christianity, followed by two weeks immersed in Islam.
The school did not allow the girl to opt out of the lesson and receive alternative assignments on the basis of religious beliefs, according to the suit — which says that policy is still in practice at Charles County Schools.
Thomas More president Richard Thompson said the following.
“Defendants forced Wood’s daughter to disparage her Christian faith by reciting the Shahada, and acknowledging Mohammed as her spiritual leader.”
The Shahada is the Islamic Creed.
“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
Fox News reported that students were also allegedly instructed that “the Islamic religion is a fact, while Christianity and Judaism are just beliefs.”
Richard Thompson stated the following.
“Such discriminatory treatment of Christianity is an unconstitutional promotion of one religion over another.”
Thompson claims that, for non-Muslims, reciting such a statement is the equivalent of converting to Islam.He also said the school failed to clearly make known to students and their families that a study of Islam was to be part of the world history curriculum.
Students were also required to memorize and recite the Five Pillars of Islam and were subjected to disparaging teachings about Christianity, the Woods claim.
Thompson said the following in the filings.
“The course also taught false statements such as Allah is the same God worshiped by Christians. Islam is a religion of peace.”
The lawsuit also says the following.
“A school cannot achieve diversity by punishing and alienating students who hold Judeo-Christian beliefs, while bolstering the doctrines and teachings of other religions. Parents must be ever vigilant to the Islamic indoctrination of their children under the guise of teaching history and multiculturalism. This is happening in public schools across the country. And they must take action to stop it. “
Additionally, the suit claims that Wood was banned from the school grounds after complaining about the curriculum. Wood served eight years in the Marine Corps and was deployed in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He was also deployed to the Pentagon as a firefighter during the September 11 attacks. The suit also says that, following Wood’s complaint, he was told his daughter would fail the subject if she were to pull out.
The family is asking for declaratory and injunctive relief barring the promotion of Islam over other religions on school grounds. They also want the no-trespass order against Wood to be lifted.
The defendants are named in the suit as Charles County Public Schools, the Charles County Board of Education, La Plata High School principal Evelyn Arnold, and vice-principal Shannon Morris.
A Charles County Public Schools spokesman refused to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by local newspaper the Bay Net this week.
The Bay Net reported that Charles County Public Schools Spokesperson Katie O’Malley-Simpson stated the following.
“We are aware of the lawsuit, but we have not yet been served. We cannot comment further at this time.”
Charles County Schools released a clarification of its world history curriculum. The statement said as follows.
“The particular unit in question is on the formation of Middle Eastern empires in which students learned the basic concepts of the Islamic faith and how it, along with politics, culture, economics and geography, contributed to the development of the Middle East. Other religions are introduced when they influence or impact a particular historical era or geographic region. For example, when reviewing the Renaissance and Reformation, students study the concepts and role of Christianity. When learning about the development of China and India, students examine Hinduism and Buddhism.”
It will be interesting to follow how the case develops, as teaching about Islam in schools has been under the scanner in recent times.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]