A New Jersey middle school has no problem teaching Islam to its students, but has censored students for bringing up the Bible.
Two mothers spoke up about their children’s experiences in at a Chatham Board of Education meeting in February. One of them, Nancy Gayer, voiced displeasure that her son’s fourth grade PowerPoint presentation from years ago was shut down because it briefly cited a line from the Bible in advertising for his efforts to gather gloves and hats for poor children. Gayer said that the teacher told her son that it “belongs in Sunday school, not in the classroom” and proceeded to claim that the computer wouldn’t allow the presentation to be shown to the class.
Gayer then took the matter to the school district, but the superintendent told her that the teacher’s actions were correct due to the district’s policy of prohibiting “proselytizing” in the classroom.
The line from the Bible her son cited was, “Caring for the poor is lending to the Lord, and you will be well repaid.”
However, this same standard apparently does not apply to Islam, as Gayer pointed out that her son is being taught about the intricacies of the religion in a seventh grade class at Chatham Middle School, including being shown a video explaining the Five Pillars of Islam that featured lines like “Allah is the creator of everything, the one true God.”:
“In my opinion, I call this proselytizing, for by definition of this word it means convert or attempt to convert from one religion, belief or opinion to another,” Gayers said.
Another mother, Libby Hilsenrath, echoed Gayers’ sentiments, pointing out that the seventh grade class went into detail about the various aspects of Islam, but did not teach Judaism and Christianity. She also brought forth further course material that could be seen as proselytizing for Islam, which included a video providing an introduction to Islam that quoted excerpts from the Koran such as “And they say: Be Jews and Christians, then ye will be rightly guided. Say (unto them, O Muhammed) Nay, but (we follow) the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolators” and “Lo, we have sent thee (O Muhammed) with the truth, a bringer of glad tidings and warner.”
However, the superintendent, Michael LaSusa, refused to eliminate the course because “it is part of the New Jersey curriculum core content standards to teach students about the various religions of the world.” He also refused to meet with Gayers and Hilsenrath.
Gayers and Hilsenrath have since been smeared as Islamophobic by various people in the area.
“We were labeled as bigots immediately following the Board of Ed meeting in an op-ed,” Hilsenrath told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “and then all over Facebook with people who knew us or didn’t know us. Xenophobic, Islamophobe, I mean it went as far as the KKK, which I don’t know what that has to do with this.”
“Unfortunately I was stared down at a grocery store too,” Gayers added, “and I believe I was in the express line with just 10 items but yet I was still stared down. It was pretty unnerving.”
The op-ed that Hilsenrath referenced was a letter to the editor on Tap Into Chatham by resident Susan O’Brien, who called Gayers and Hilsenrath’s concerns as “at worst veiled bigotry and at best sad and ignorant.”
“I believe that ignorance breads fear and fear breeds hatred; the more we understand about other cultures and religions the better we are equipped to deal with the issues we face in today’s world,” O’Brien wrote.
O’Brien did not attend the Board of Education meeting and nowhere in her letter did she address the glaring inconsistency of the district’s religion in the classroom policy.
As the mothers have pointed out, there is nothing wrong with being taught about the intricacies of world religions, but it’s a problem when only one religion is being taught and not others, especially when a presentation featuring a brief line from the Bible was shut down. In today’s politically correct society, voicing such concerns has resulted in Gayer and Hilsenbrath being “verbally bullied” and as smeared as “bigots,” as Gayers said in a press release sent to the Daily Wire.
The mothers’ speeches at the Board of Education meeting and their appearance on Carlson’s show can be seen below:
Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter @bandlersbanter.