Freedom of religion now comes with a string of conditions. In Mountain Ridge Middle School in Gerrardstown West Virginia, one parent was and still is rightfully outraged when his daughter came home with an assignment that was meant to be completed despite her Christian beliefs. The task was to write the Islamic faith declaration (as if they were actually declaring their faith) in the Arabic language.
While the packet allegedly went into detail about the history of Islam, the prophet Muhammad and the five pillars of the religion, Penkoski, the girl’s father, was mostly concerned with a worksheet toward the end of the packet that instructed students to practice calligraphy by copying the Arabic form of the Shahada by hand.
Penkoski said in a statement to The Christian Post,
“I saw the assignment of writing the Shahada in Arabic. Their excuse was calligraphy. I was like, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!’ First of all, calligraphy was invented in China 3,000 years prior to Muhammad. The fact that they were trying to get my daughter to write that disturbed me.'”
“I said, ‘That is not happening. My daughter is not doing that,'” Penkoski continued. “My daughter told me that if she didn’t do the assignment then she was going to get a detention slip.”
When the child’s father went to investigate futher, the teacher backed down and said the assignment wasn’t mandatory, rather, it was a fun and interactive way to get kids acquainted with different cultures and religions. But the very next day, Penkoski’s daughter came back with basically the same assignment. When questioned for a second time, the teacher again replied that the worksheet was optional, despite the contradictory statements from the students.
It was either, do the assignment and proclaim Islamic faith, or be punished for it. When students had previously learned about Christianity, they were not told to write down the Lord’s prayer, the ten commandments, or anything of that sort. Meanwhile, for the Islamic course, it was do or die.
If the goal is to be all-inclusive, then don’t exclude Christianity and don’t force middle school students to low-key convert to Islam. If anything else, be consistent. Unfortunately these days, that seems to be easier said than done.