Why can't kids learn about the Middle East the way their parents did, ya dern galoot?

In a great victory for Tennessee religious freedom, a state representative is pushing a bill that should satisfy all the terrified parents who are pretty sure the state's public schools are hotbeds of Muslim indoctrination. State Rep. Sheila Butt has introduced a bill that would prevent schools from teaching "religious doctrine" before 10th grade, so that innocent children won't accidentally start praying to some booga-booga "Allah" guy after learning about the ancient Islamic world in 7th grade social studies. Parents have been having a holy freakout over the fact that the curriculum teaches about the Five Pillars of Islam, although they have so far not similarly complained that the 6th grade social studies standards teach about the Ten Commandments and the development of monotheism in ancient Israel, because that's only history facts. A cynic might almost get the impression that Butt is joining other Republican legislators pandering to anti-Muslim sentiment in the state.

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Butt told the Nashville Tennessean that her bill isn't specifically aimed at Islam, oh, no, never! It's really about teaching sophisticated concepts at an age when children can understand them:

"I think that probably the teaching that is going on right now in seventh, eighth grade is not age appropriate," Butt said Friday afternoon. "They are not able to discern a lot of times whether its indoctrination or whether they're learning about what a religion teaches."

Now, while Tennessee social studies teachers insist the curriculum is both age-appropriate and secular in its orientation, everybody knows teachers are a bunch of cultural Marxists bent on forcing Islam on children, since Marx was such a big fan of organized religion. A panel of teachers told the Tennessean that while students do learn about the tenets of world religions, including Islam, the religious content is framed in a context of understanding how religions have influenced history.

"The reality is the Muslim world brought us algebra, 'One Thousand and One Nights,' and some can argue it helped bring about the Renaissance," Metro Nashville Public Schools social studies teacher Kyle Alexander recently told The Tennessean. "There is a lot of influence that that part of the world had on world history."

If you read that really carefully, you know he's really saying, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet!"

One problem with the bill is that while it bars teaching any form of "religious doctrine," Tennessee law doesn't define what counts as "doctrine," which is not really a problem as long as teachers stop indoctrinating kids and instead tell them Islam is bad. In addition to banning all teaching about "doctrine" before high school, the bill requires any classes teaching "comparative religion" to not "focus more on one religion than another," which could get a little dicey when you start counting class hours and arguing over what constitutes a "religion" in the first place.

Not surprisingly, the Council on Islamic-American Relations issued a statement condemning the proposed law as a thinly veiled attack on Muslims:

Islamophobes like Rep. Butt fail to recognize that there is a big difference between teaching students about religion as an important part of world history and promoting particular religious beliefs ... The education of children in Tennessee should not be delayed because of anti-Muslim bigotry.

Rep. Butt couldn't see why CAIR was getting its big hooked Levantine rug-trader nose out of joint over the bill, since it doesn't mention any particular religion at all, wink-wink. And how could anyone think she's a bigot, just because maybe she might be a bit of a bigot, seeing as how she's also called for a "Council on Christian Relations" and a "NAAWP" to protect the interests of decent "Western" people -- although some racists thought the "W" stood for "White," the silly bigots.

Besides, as she said back in February, she can't be prejudiced, since she's from Illinois. Case closed.

[ThinkProgress / Tennessean / RawStory]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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