Angry Christian parents forced a shutdown of Augusta County Schools in Virginia on Dec. 18 (video below).
The firestorm began after a self-identified Christian mom, Kimberly Herndon, was outraged that a teacher gave her child and other students at Riverbeds High School in Staunton some Arabic calligraphy to copy which, when translated, said, "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.”
Herndon wrote on her Facebook page on Dec. 11 that the school children were unknowingly "instructed to denounce our Lord by copying this creed of Islam."
After her posting went viral, Herndon reportedly set up a town meeting of at the Good Will Ministries church on Dec. 15 where about 100 locals denounced the teacher and the school.
On Dec. 17, she told WTVR, “I will not have my children sit under a woman who indoctrinates them with the Islam religion when I am a Christian, and I'm going to stand behind Christ."
The online and offline outrage grew so large that people called and emailed the school to such a degree that Augusta County Sheriff's deputies went to all the schools in the county and locked the front doors during part of the week, reports the News Leader.
CNN reported that angry messages were targeting the world geography class taught by Cheryl LaPorte, the teacher who gave the students their calligraphy assignment, which was about the artistry of the calligraphy not religious indoctrination.
The calls and emails got so bad that Augusta County Schools posted on its website: "The communications have significantly increased in volume today and based on concerns regarding the tone and content of those communications, Sheriff Fisher and Dr. Bond mutually decided schools and school offices will be closed on Friday, December 18, 2015. While there has been no specific threat of harm to students, schools and school offices will be closed Friday, December 18, 2015."
Evangelist Franklin Graham posted the CNN story about the school being shut down on his Facebook page on Dec. 18 and wrote: "The parents did the right thing in strongly voicing their concerns, and I agree with them!"
Graham made no mention of how the angry backlash concerned local police and officials enough to close every single school in the county as a safety precaution.
Graham's posting received almost 100,000 "likes" on Facebook, and resulted in hundreds of angry messages posted by Christians slamming the school, the teacher, Muslims, public schools, Common Core and President Obama.
Graham also expanded the conspiracy theory offered by Herndon: "It’s obvious the publishers of this curriculum are subtly trying to indoctrinate our youth to Islam—and school boards need to be more careful about which publishers they use and which books they buy. This teacher was entrusted with the safeguarding of these children and should have had enough common sense to put the brakes on this assignment."
The school district has repeatedly denied the indoctrination charges, and has explained several times how world religions were taught as part of LaPorte's geography class.
LaPorte has gained support from her students at Riverbeds High School, and on a Facebook page created by her former students, notes the News Leader.
Kacey LaPorte Bunch, the teacher's daughter, reportedly wrote on the page: "My mother wanted me to share the following message with you: 'I have been humbled by the love and support I have received from so many wonderful people. Thank you all, and please know you put the HAPPY back in my holidays.' Mrs.LaPorte."