Religion in Public Schools: “under God” Pledge Out; Prayer to Allah In?

(ANN ARBOR, MI) – In the same week that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, a federal lawsuit was filed in San Francisco Monday after Christian students across California were forced to pretend they were Muslims for three weeks, praying in the name of Allah the Compassionate the Merciful, chanting Praise to Allah, picking a Muslim name from a list to replace their own name and to stage their own Jihad via a dice game.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national, public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, representing parents and four children, filed the lawsuit against the Byron Union School District and various school officials to stop the use of the “Islam Simulation” materials in the Byron/Excelsior Public School in Byron, California.

“What’s at issue,” said Richard Thompson, Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, “is the true meaning of the Establishment Clause. The use of the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance in no way establishes a national religion. However, the Byron Union school district crossed the line and clearly is in violation of the Establishment clause by using taxpayer dollars to teach students how to worship as a Muslim.”
At issue in the lawsuit is a three-week segment of the seventh grade “World History” class using the textbook “Across the Centuries” published by Houghton Mifflin and supplemented by Islam simulation materials. Students were told that, “you and your classmates will become Muslims.”

To receive points toward their overall grade, students were encouraged to dress as Muslims and to use such phrases in their speech as “Allah Akbar,” which is Arabic for “God is great”. Students were required to memorize Muslim prayers, fulfill the Five Pillars of Faith and fast during lunch period to simulate fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Thompson further noted, “parents with children in this course were totally caught off guard and had no idea what their children were being taught.”
Said Thompson, “This is unbelievable. While public schools prohibit Christian students from reading the Bible, praying, displaying the Ten Commandments, and even mentioning the word “God”, students in California are being indoctrinated into the religion of Islam. Public schools would never tolerate teaching Christianity in this way. Just imagine the ACLU’s outcry if students were told that they had to pray the Lords Prayer, memorize the Ten Commandments, use such phrases as ‘Jesus is the Messiah,’ and fast during Lent.”

According to Thompson, “Although it is constitutional for public schools to have an instructional program about comparative religion or teach about religion and utilize religious books such as the Bible in courses about our history and culture, the Byron Union School District crossed way over the constitutional line when it coerced impressionable twelve year olds to engage in particular religious rituals and worship, simulated or not.”

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