AP Tests Spark Controversy Over Religion's Role In History

| by Sarah Zimmerman
a person taking a multiple choice testa person taking a multiple choice test

The new Advanced Placement (AP) European History curriculum is reportedly set to downplay Christianity's role in European history and Islam's violent conquests in Europe.

The AP program is a way for high school students to take college-level classes. By passing the AP examination at the end of the school year, a student may receive course credit at a participating university.

The College Board, which is responsible for designing all AP curriculums, has recently come under fire by conservatives for reducing religion's role in European history, Breitbart News reports. David Randall, the National Association of Scholars' director of communications, has released a comprehensive critique of the new AP European History exam, noting that the curriculum eliminates the 1,400-year jihadist war with Christendom. 

"[The new] guidelines don’t take seriously the idea that religious faith inspires people’s thoughts and actions," Randall told Breitbart News. 

This isn't the first time Republicans have questioned the College Board's AP curriculum. According to CNN, the 2014 AP U.S. History course was said to have a "biased and inaccurate view of many important events in American history" by the Republican National Committee. Critics said the framework did not do enough to emphasize American exceptionalism and did not name essential American historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin.

Randall's investigation of the AP European History framework notes that all mentions of religion, particularly Islam, have been downplayed or removed completely, according to Breitbart News.

"Students who learn history according to the APEH guidelines won’t be able to understand how much of history is made up of people who live for faith, do good for faith, think for faith, create works of beauty for faith, die for faith – and kill for faith," Randall told the news site. "If they don’t know this is how the world has always worked, they won’t be able to understand it when they see it happening in front of their eyes."

American Principles Project senior fellow Jane Robbins writes in the conservative publication Townhall that with these new guidelines, "students will learn nothing about medieval Christianity or the tenets of the Reformation."

"So determined is the College Board to excise religion from European history that it even manages to discuss the movement to abolish slavery without mentioning its religious foundations," Robbins adds in the op-ed, which was published on June 15.

Some Republicans are calling for an alternative test and curriculum that will aim to be more objective and teach students these moments in European history.

“The College Board has proven it can’t be trusted to produce objective scholarship,” Robbins writes. “Must we fight a lengthy battle with that monopoly every time it releases a new course framework? We need an alternative to the AP program – as soon as possible.”

Sources: Breitbart News, CNN, Townhall / Photo Credit: Alberto García/Flickr

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