Faced with the threat of a federal lawsuit, the Olmsted Falls schools have pulled a video about Muslims in America from its seventh-grade social studies curriculum. School Superintendent Jim Lloyd said the district agreed to remove the 2005 documentary TV show, “30 Days: Muslims and America,” rather than spend money defending the right to show it.
Cleveland.com 30 Days: Muslims and America follows a Christian man who lives as a Muslim for 30 days with a family in Dearborn, Mich., sharing the family’s culture, studying the Koran and attending prayers. Jenny McKeigue — a mother of three who works for the district part-time as alumni director — objected to the show, which her son saw in class in 2010. She said it promoted Islam and did not fairly represent all ethnic and religious groups.
“I said, you probably should remove the video,” McKeigue said. “It’s not historic and it’s really inappropriate.” However, McKeigue said she didn’t get anywhere with the district, and earlier this year, she contacted the Thomas More Law Center, in Ann Arbor, Mich., which in its own words “promotes Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values.” The law center called the program an “Islamic proselytizing video.”
“Teachers may not constitutionally show videotapes that violate the neutrality they must maintain toward religion or that engages in religious instruction,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the law center. “Showing ‘Muslims and America’ violated those principles and the establishment clause of our Constitution. Under the guise of teaching the history of Islam to seventh-graders, history teachers were proselytizing students to the Islamic faith.”
Since the video deals with Muslims in America in the 21st century, McKeigue and the Thomas More Law Center argued it was inappropriate for a class dealing with history. The superintendent said the district was in no way trying to indoctrinate students. (But the video is)
Meanwhile, the repugnantly pro-Islamic American Civil Liberties Union said a school district should be allowed to show a video that teaches about the culture of a religion. Chris Link, executive director of the Ohio ACLU expressed her belief that was the intention of the school district rather than to teach students to practice a religion. (Try showing a video of a Muslim converting to Christianity in class and watch how fast the ACLU and CAIR file a lawsuit against you)
Link said she found it troubling the school district would remove the video based on the complaint of one parent. She said the group’s attorneys planned to look into the issue.
Julia Shearson, executive director of the Muslim Brotherhood front group CAIR (Cleveland Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations), said she didn’t think the video crossed the line of proselytizing or providing religious instruction. Instead, it debunked common stereotypes about Islam and Muslims.