Relax, Christian Islamophobes! Just Because Jews, Christians & Muslims Worship the Same God Doesn’t Mean We Can’t Be Nasty to Each Other

I’ve previously blogged about parents in Georgia freaking out because their children learn in public schools some basic facts about Islam in their social studies classes. I’ve also written about how the Georgia Department of Education has apparently caved to these bigots’ demands to change the curriculum to preserve their ignorance.

The point which seems to bring about the most horror is that Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God. One of the Christian Right’s leading legal organizations, the American Center for Law and Justice, has already published two terrifying articles on its web site about the indoctrination of children into the religion of Islam. Continue reading

Georgia Dept of Education Withdraws Teachers’ Social Studies Guide to Please Anti-Muslim Bigots

Anti-Muslim bigots asked a county in Georgia to allow their children to “opt-out” of learning about Islam in middle school social studies. When the county, correctly, refused the request because it was part of the state curriculum, bigots statewide, including the Southern Baptist Convention, have apparently pressured the Georgia Department of Education into withdrawing a teachers’ guide from all the school districts in Georgia because it included accurate statements about Islam which don’t fit the anti-Muslim polemics the bigots believe.

Updated October 12, 2015. The dumbing down of the youth of the USA continues, this time in Tennessee.

Updated: Walton County School District (Georgia) Resists Anti-Muslim Ignorance

Updated October 5, 2015: Georgia Department of Education accommodates the anti-Muslim bigots. This is a much more serious development.

Updated October 2, 2015: The original title of this blog entry was Walton County School District (Georgia) Enables Anti-Muslim Ignorance. After I sent, the letter below, I did receive a response in which the Supervisor of Schools wrote that no “opt-out” has been granted. A September 30 news report confirmed this. I also recommend the final chapter of Kent Greenawalt’s book Does God Belong in Public Schools?, which covers the question of a public school student opting out of curriculum material for religious reasons.

Here’s a letter I wrote to the Walton County School District Board of Education members urging them to reconsider allowing parents to have their children “opt-out” of social studies lessons that provide accurate information about Islam. I relied on a news report from Fox 10 Phoenix and WSB-TV in Atlanta. Continue reading

The Discrimination – Fanaticism Cycle – “Garb” Statutes

A passage in Kent Greenawalt’s Does God Belong in Public Schools? discusses the case of a Muslim school teacher who could not teach in Philadelphia public schools because she wore “religious garb,” which violated the Pennsylvania’s “Religious Garb” statute.

That no teacher in any public school shall wear in said school or while engaged in the performance of his duty as such teacher any dress, mark, emblem or insignia indicating the fact that such teacher is a member or adherent of any religious order, sect or denomination.

I wondered if a distinction could be made between clothing which identifies a person as part of a religious order and clothing which identifies a person as a member of a religion. I wanted to assert that members of an order typically wear the same style of clothes, almost a uniform, while Muslim women, while complying with custom or perceived religious instruction, wear a wide variety of clothing. Is it still religious clothing if her hem line is 2 cm above her ankles or 5 cm of her forearms are revealed? Does color matter? Is the shelwar qamees worn in the Indian subcontinent acceptable while an abaya, common in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, is unacceptable? Or vice versa? Continue reading

Call for Papers: Opposing Quasi-Religious Interference in Public School Social Studies Programs

In response to the Call for Annual Conference Proposals by the Georgia Council for the Social Studies, I am organizing a panel entitled “Opposing Quasi-Religious Interference in Public School Social Studies Programs.” The conference is Thursday and Friday, October 22-23, 2015 in Athens, GA. The proposal deadline is April 30, 2015. Continue reading

Georgia Hearing on Advanced Placement US History Exam, 2015

Updated April 21, 2015: Call for papers for panel addressing this and related issues.

The full hearing lasted more than 2.5 hours. I edited the version above down to 51 minutes. If you have the stomach for the full dose of reactionary political attacks on historians, you can download the video.

For additional background information, read a handout the anti-APUSH lobbyist was distributing in March, 2015.

P.S. The opponents of Advanced Placement US History exam used arguments similar to those who opposed environmental regulation: deny, confuse, relativize. Read Merchants of Doubt to see what I mean.