Republican State Rep. Sheila Butt of Tennessee has proposed a bill that would ban public middle schools from teaching "religious doctrine" in light of complaints about children being taught about Islam as part of world history.
"I think that probably the teaching that is going on right now in seventh, eighth grade is not age-appropriate," Butt told The Tennessean on Oct. 9. "They are not able to discern a lot of times whether its indoctrination or whether they're learning about what a religion teaches."
Educators and teachers have claimed that the courses are appropriate, but have admitted that students may learn about the Five Pillars of Islam or read from religious books, such as the Quran.
"The reality is the Muslim world brought us algebra, 'One Thousand and One Nights,' and some can argue it helped bring about the Renaissance," said Kyle Alexander, a social studies teacher for Metro Nashville Public Schools. "There is a lot of influence that that part of the world had on world history."
Butt claims her bill doesn't specifically target Islam and would not censor the mention of religion in middle schools, but added:
If you're teaching the Middle East, then of course you're going to mention the religion that was prevalent in that area. But to teach the doctrine is another thing ... It's just a bill about balancing the teaching of religion in education ...
Junior high is not the time that children are doing the most analysis. Insecurity is in junior high a lot of times, and students are not able to differentiate a lot of things they are taught.
Butt made news earlier this year when she wrote on Facebook, “[I]t is time for a Council on Christian Relations and an NAAWP in this Country,” reported the Associated Press.
Butt was responding to a Jan. 26 open letter from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which later replied to her comment (now deleted) by claiming that she was referring to the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP).
However, Butt insisted that she was referring to the “National Association of Advancement for Western Peoples,” reported WZTV FOX 17 (video below).