Wichita, KS – A “Five Pillars of Islam” display posted at an elementary school in Kansas has caused a considerable amount of outrage among parents and conservative proponents of religious freedom.
I’ll let up on the sarcasm just a little bit, but this is really yet another case of “angry parent takes photo completely out of context, starts a Facebook group, rallies angry cohorts who fill in their own blanks, and successfully pressures annoyed officials to do what they want them to do.”
The bulletin board formerly posted at Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary did indeed rest under a massive and imposing sign that read “ISLAM,” and there were five pillars that each held one word of the phrase “The Five Pillars of Islam,” but this isn’t evidence of some attempt to indoctrinate children under Sharia Law while Christian prayer remains outlawed.
It’s just part of a study on world religion. The next week, the billboard probably would have hosted a giant Buddha.
Still, the photo of the bulletin board was posted to Facebook with, and I quote, “This is a school that banned all forms of Christian prayer. This can not stand.” It went viral, and school administrators were forced to send home a letter explaining the situation.
Though they removed the bulletin board, the letter explained that students are studying “Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam as part of their [core curriculum].” They also explained that there’s a painting of the Last Supper hanging elsewhere in the school, and that they haven’t banned prayer like the viral post claimed.
“The purpose is not to explore the matters of theology, but to understand the place of religion and religious ideas in history,” a district statement said. “The bulletin board has been taken down until the unit is taught later this fall.”
And a quick aside on prayer in schools: School officials can say that prayer is banned in schools, but they can’t actually do it. That’s why countless valedictorians aren’t hauled away in handcuffs for ignoring administrative recommendations and leading their respective graduating classes in prayer every year. It’s a myth. Like Bigfoot.
Do you think that the school should have taken down the “Five Pillars of Islam” display?