"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

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Friday, September 17, 2010

When did Proselytization Become Part of Social Studies Curriculum?

I wrote a previous post about Al Sharpton's "Reclaim the Dream" rally, scheduled as a protest against Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally, and Arne Duncan's involvement with Sharpton:


I find it ironic that Duncan, Department of Education secretary, took churches to task for not opening up churches during the week and helping students. It is my contention then, and it is now, that if you want churches to become an integral factor in children's lives, they should not be eviscerated by this same department. How is religious behavior in schools frowned on by the government? Stories have been published in the last few years of children not being allowed to read the Bible in free reading time:


Here's a story about a school district backtracking its initial decision banning a student from bringing a Bible to school and reading it in private time:


School officials confirmed he was not allowed to read his Bible during reading time, as the church and state must remain separate in the classroom. I am proposing this theory we've heard from school districts doesn't extend to field trips. Apparently, the separation of church and state doesn't extend to "protect" students from proselytizing at field trips.

Link to the excellent coverage of a Massachusetts school trip to a mosque. A watchdog mother interested in how information was to be covered attended as a chaperon and filmed the presentation:


Nothing in the permission slip included students taking part in the worship service. The mother believed the history presented by the speaker was distorted and the presentation became a proselytizing speech. How would parents feel if their students participated in a Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Mormon, Hindu, Buddhist, worship service? Would parents think this was a valid function of a school curriculum? Are other religions going to be visited on field trips to worship in other religious buildings? When did schools start allowing and condoning religious worship opportunities for students?

School districts espouse the belief in the separation of church and state. When the teachers saw what was occurring in this mosque, that the "history" lesson had become a "worship service", the students should have been escorted to the school buses right then and there. By not stepping in and prohibiting students from joining in the worship service, this district gave its tacit approval for children to participate in a religious ceremony. I wonder if teachers would allow students to participate in Christian, Hindu, and Jewish ceremonies.

If students are being told they cannot read their Bibles during private reading time at school, then why is it permissible to allow proselytizing of students on a field trip?

Is this what Arne Duncan has in mind when he said he wants churches to open their doors to children during the week? Does he want the churches to provide space solely for academic and social purposes or is he comfortable for public school children receiving religious teaching and worship opportunities? Why does he want religious organizations to provide activities for children during the week, and then when they might want to bring their Bibles to school to read in private time, the children are told this practice is not allowed?

I can imagine the outcry from the ACLU if this field trip had happened in a non-Muslim building. This story underlines the necessity for parents to be aware of the curriculum being presented to their children. Parents need to once again take the responsibility of knowing what their children are being taught. Is this field trip educational or indoctrinational?

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