National Coalition Against Censorship Defends Textbook Against Accusations of ‘Islamic Indoctrination’

A New York-based free speech group has spoken out against a Tennessee mom who believes that her daughter is being indoctrinated into Islam by a school textbook, and wants it to be removed from the school in question.

Michelle Edmisten has filed a formal complaint after addressing her concerns twice to the Sullivan County Board of Education, saying the textbook in question, My World History, was unsuitable for use in her daughter’s seventh grade class at Bluff City Middle School. She felt that assignments given to pupils, which included the question “Name the Islamic Holy Book” and an art project including information on the five pillars of Islam, clashed with her beliefs.

In her first address to the BOE last month, she said, “I would like to see the Pearson book yanked from the school immediately. I would like to see parents, Christians, veterans, anyone that's anyone, stand up for this fight.” However, her comments have attracted the attention of the National Coalition Against Censorship, who have come to the school’s defense.

In a letter to the Director of Schools, Evelyn Rafalowski, and other board members, the NCAC state that “factual lessons about Islamic theology do not constitute an endorsement of Islam at the expense of other faiths.” Addressing Edmisten’s comments, they go on to note that “students are taught what Muslims believe: they are not being persuaded that such beliefs are correct (or incorrect).”

Edmisten reportedly told news outlets that her daughter had refused to complete Islam-related homework and was given a zero on a test. The BOE told her that there is a formal procedure in place for textbooks being removed from schools, and are now re-examining how Social Studies is taught in their schools.

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