Thanks to the watchful stepfather of a Henderson High School student in Hendersonville, Tennessee, teachers will no longer be “pushing Islamic tolerance” on the students in the form of religious field trips.
Mike Conner, concerned his stepdaughter would be exposed to knowledge in a 36-week world studies course, got angry at back-to-school night when he heard of a planned Sept. 4 field trip to a mosque and a Hindu temple. So he spoke up because, you know, “If we as parents don’t begin speaking up, no one will.”
The honors course – which is an elective – has been offered by Hendersonville High for a decade. The curriculum includes world religions, and students spend three weeks on that topic, learning about Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, said school system spokesman Jeremy Johnson. In the past, the students have typically visited a Jewish synagogue, a Hindu temple and a Muslim mosque without parental complaints.
Conner's stepdaughter, who elected her elective, decided to forego the field trip. So when she elected to stay home from her elective field trip, she was given an alternate assignment “comparing and contrasting the religious teachings of Jesus, Gandhi and Muhammad.” But this assignment was too difficult for her because the materials she was given “contained a page of Bible verses, two-thirds of a page about Gandhi and five pages about Muhammad.”
When his stepdaughter decided she could not compare and contrast the three because she was given unequal information, she was initially told that she would receive a zero and would not be given another assignment, Conner said. That’s when he really became upset. However, school officials later agreed to give a second alternative assignment.
Conner believes that between the trips and the assignment, the school was clearly promoting the Islamic faith.
“The teacher was pushing Islamic tolerance,” Conner said. “We did not want to make this about religion – they forced us to.”
“After receiving a parent complaint regarding field trip locations, our district has reviewed the practice and decided to eliminate field trips to religious venues from this class, as it does not provide equal representation to all the religions studied in the course unit.”
So this was not about religion at all, ok? It was about equality. And equality won.