What is it about some people? They don’t know the difference between teaching about a culture and teaching about a religion. And there IS a difference. Just as there is a difference between fanatics and those who just live their lives and follow their religion. Teaching kids about those differences is so important now, in this intolerant and violent world.
Rachel Seger’s 12-year-old daughter brought home her history homework which included vocabulary words about Muslim countries. The words included: Koran, jihad, Islam, Muslim, Arabia, Muhammad, Allah, hegira, mosque, Ayatollah, caliph and Baghdad. When her daughter asked her about a word, Seger flipped out:
She said, ‘What’s Koran mean?’ and I flipped. I said, ‘Excuse me?’ and I looked at them, and I said oh my God. Some of these words, I don’t even know what they are… I don’t want her learning other faiths from school. If it would have just stopped at ‘this is their culture, this is where they go to church,’ fine. But when you get into the actual aspect of it, that’s where I’m drawing the line. That’s just going a little too far.
“Actual aspect?” What does that even mean? The thing is, that is exactly what those words do. They are all about the Muslim culture, in which religion plays a big role. Just as Christianity plays a big role in Western culture. To form an analogy, it’s like teaching about a Christian culture with words like Bible, church, pastor, Pope, baptism, nativity, missionary, Jehovah and Jerusalem. Just knowing these words does not promote a religion. What it does is give a student context about a culture. This is how we teach kids about societies around the globe.
The superintendent of High Mount School, Mark Halwachs, defended the study plan, saying that the school is teaching about the difference between “a large group and a fanatical faction.” He believes that students in the 12-year-old age group can tell the difference:
We have to present, with 9/11 or anything, it wasn’t a religion that did that. It was bad men that did that. I think you have to take moments like that and use them as teachable moments. You have to look at the age group and your students and, to me, you can talk about different things in the world and teach about tolerance… You can teach about religion, you just can’t … endorse or support a religion over another.. you can explain about and teach about the religions of the world… It’s important to talk to students and go into deep conversations about cultures and beliefs… to me (history) is a perfect time to do this.
The righties, naturally enough, have glommed onto the 9/11 reference, frothing at the mouth about it. Todd Starnes, on FoxNews.com, had this to say:
Well, I hate to break it to the superintendent, but the radical Islamic extremists were not hollering ‘Jesus Saves’ when they flew the jetliners into those buildings… the school district’s definition of tolerance does not seem to include in-depth, theological discussions about Christianity… Sounds to me like the folks at High Mount School need to add another word to their vocabulary list – indoctrination.
Except that the history curriculum that is currently teaching about the Muslim world will later be teaching units on Europe and Catholicism and England and Anglicans. So there will be some discussion about Christianity and our culture. But that, of course, won’t be “indoctrination.” Because Christian.
As for what fanatics holler when they murder people for their ideology, I’m pretty sure that Christian zealots do say something about Jesus and/or their God when they kill others for being different. Most reference the Bible and say that it condones such violence. But that’s okay, I guess. As long as it’s the “right” religion.
Seger, like all fanatical pseudo-Christians would prefer to keep her child ignorant of other cultures and the role their religions play in their societies. She would rather teach her child that other religions are all “wrong” or “evil.” This is exactly why there is so much fear and hatred in the world today.
Yes, Muslims need to teach their kids about tolerance, too. Everyone does. Until we can accept that other cultures exist in this world and that they are not bad simply because they are different, we are doomed.
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