A California mother's response to her son's homework assignment sparked intense debate across social media.
Tara Cali of Bakersfield was shocked to discover that her son’s history homework was related to Islamic beliefs. The assignment included a code for students to scan that would link to a Muslim prayer.
Cali claimed indoctrination and wrote a message to her son’s teacher in response.
“My son will not be a part of this in any sort of way,” she wrote. “This is bad teaching material. He will not partake. If you have a problem with it, call our lawyer.”
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She then went on to list several bible verses.
The American Civil Liberties Union stated that it’s constitutional for students to be taught about religion, as long as they’re not advancing any particular beliefs. A school’s approach must be academic and not devotional, it must promote awareness as opposed to acceptance, it cannot sponsor the practice of religion, and it is not allowed to promote or denigrate a religion.
The ACLU wrote its take on the subject on its website:
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Some who promote religion and Bible courses in public schools wish to help students better understand the world in which they live and of the role that religion plays in peoples' lives. This can be done in accordance with sound constitutional values. Others promote such courses with the obvious intention of enlisting public schools to advance their particular religious beliefs. Ultimately, it should be remembered that the promotion of religious faith is the fundamental responsibility of parents, families, and religious communities — not legislatures, government offices, or public schools.
The story quickly went viral, with many saying that the mother overreacted to what was simply a history lesson.
“It doesn't say that she was trying to indoctrinate him all it says is that it was an assignment, just like learning Spanish or French. The fact that there is a Spanish class and a French class does that mean the school is also trying to force the kids to speak either language?” one reader wrote on Shared’s Facebook page. “It's school a place where you learn about various things!! I bet if it was catholicism or Christianity that note wouldn't have been sent!!”
Others felt that the school went too far teaching about Islam.
“My child wouldn't be part of this either!! PERIOD!! I don't care what religion or beliefs others have that's on them but as me and mine we will stick to our MIGHTY GOD!! If you throw prayer out of school you should not teach about religion period!!” one mother commented. “If the child wants to be informed and learn more than let that child do so when he or she is in college and old enough to make the decision on what subjects they want to be part of!!”