A Christian girl who refused to compromise her beliefs was penalized when a Maryland school asked students to write the Islamic prayer proclaiming Allah to be the only god. However, she made the decision to fight back instead of accepting her failing grade.
At La Plata High School, Caleigh Wood’s teacher gave her a project about Islamic principles while she was a junior. Wood read the curriculum and found that a large portion of it included false material. And when the young woman saw what the school was forcing students to declare, the final straw then came.
In addition to teaching Christians that Muslims have less faith than Christians, the World History course, according to WND, forced students to affirm in writing that Allah is the only true god. Multiple points in the curriculum could have been taken directly from a sermon by an imam.
- “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.”
- “Islam at heart is a peaceful religion.”
- Jihad is a “personal struggle in devotion to Islam, especially involving spiritual discipline.”
- “To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism.”
- “Men are the managers of the affairs of women” and “Righteous women are therefore obedient.”
Reciting the Shahada—the Islamic prayer of conversion that declares Allah the sole god—would go against her Christian convictions as Wood explained to her teacher, feeling convicted. She attempted to argue that the assignment violated her constitutional right to freedom of religion, but was then given a zero for the assignment.
However, Wood and her family took the only action that would get the school’s attention, instead of lying down. She wasn’t one of the faithless Christians about which the Islamic lessons apparently taught, despite being told to shut up and accept her failing grade.
According to CBN News, Caleigh Wood and her family filed a complaint against the school, claiming it had violated the First Amendment by forcing the girl to declare faith in a religion other than her own. They called the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) to represent them. The school won support from the Federal District Court, the Fourth Circuit Court, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The law center ultimately chose to appeal the matter to the Supreme Court, nevertheless.
In addition to promoting Islam in the classroom, the TMLC claimed that the school’s curriculum discriminates against Christianity by presenting prejudiced viewpoints as facts. They have emphasized that financing for religious indoctrination in public schools comes from taxpayer dollars.
TMLC President and Chief Counsel Richard Thompson said in a statement:
“Under the guise of teaching history or social studies, public schools across America are promoting the religion of Islam in ways that would never be tolerated for Christianity or any other religion. I’m not aware of any school which has forced a Muslim student to write the Lord’s Prayer or John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’”
In defense of the school, Attorney Andrew Scott insisted that religion must be taught in schools as it is inseparable from history. The TMLC claims the lessons endorsed Islam that equated to “forced speech of a young Christian girl,” but the school maintains that the lessons were taught in a secular manner “and did not compel Wood to profess any belief.”
“Religion is an integral part of history. You can’t ignore it. The key is to teach it from a secular perspective – and not to proselytize,” said Scott, who argued the case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.
Many contend that history and Islam are taught from only one perspective, a perspective that has been thoroughly rewritten. The courts have nevertheless decided to leave the lessons up to the teachers’ judgment.
Although the ultimate choice had no academic consequences for Caleigh Wood when she eventually graduated, she persisted in working to make a change for present and future high school students. Sadly, after years of challenging the school’s curriculum, her appeal was ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court.
The class gave us a troubling glimpse into the indoctrination that takes place in our educational system due to religion. While imparting written tenets is one aspect, it is prohibited to offer prejudicial viewpoints as facts in order to advance one faith over another.