Parents and taxpayers in Charleston, West Virginia, are starting to ask questions about what’s going on in their public schools after teachers were recently targeted by what appears to have been a brazen violation of separation of mosque and state.
LeoHohmann (h/t Susan K) Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ronald Duerring gave his approval for the Islamic Association of West Virginia to place personal invitations into each teacher’s school mailbox to attend a “Get to Know Your Muslim Student Event” at the mosque on Jan. 25.
“We came back from lunch [on Jan. 4] and found them in our mailboxes,” said a teacher who asked not to be identified for fear of professional repercussions.
The invitation included a request for teachers to “Please RSVP by Jan. 19.” See the invitation below.
The invitation appeared in the teacher mailboxes of at least three Charleston-area schools:
- South Charleston High School
- John Adams Middle School
- Ruthlawn Elementary
When contacted by a local resident in his district and asked about the Muslim outreach to teachers, Duerring said he had spoken with the school-district attorney, Jim Withrow, who said there “wasn’t a problem” with regard to church-state issues.
Duerring, reached by phone Thursday afternoon, said he did not consider it at all controversial for schools in his district to be allowing mosque leaders access to their teachers. “That’s not a controversy for us and, no, I am not going to answer any of your questions,” Duerring said before abruptly ending the conversation.
Brenda Arthur, a local insurance broker who leads the Greater Charleston ACT For America chapter, says she will approach the Kanawha County Board of Education at its Thursday night meeting on Jan. 18 to address the controversial invitations.
“I told them this is, to us, an egregious violation of the separation of church and state. They only give you five minutes, so I’ve got to give it my best shot,” said Arthur, a Jewish American who feels her tax dollars should not be going toward the promotion of Islam in the schools. Arthur said Islam appears to be advancing its agenda throughout West Virginia in a series of aggressive moves.
The city’s only mosque – Islamic Association of West Virginia – doubled in size about two years ago. CAIR, or the Council on American Islamic Relations, announced plans last year to open an office in Charleston, likely in anticipation of a second wave of 100 Muslim refugees arriving from Syria.
Because of a citizen backlash, however, that second wave never happened. After Donald Trump took office in January he drastically lowered the ceiling on the number of refugee arrivals, from 110,000 under Obama down to 50,000 and then 45,000. The Episcopal-backed Interfaith Ministry’s big plans for more Syrians were nixed.
But the Muslim Student Association and other Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups have been upping their game in the state ever since. The MSA joined with the San Jose, California-based Islamic Networks Group, or ING, to put on a seminar at the mosque for students.
Islamic Network Group was founded by Maha El Genaidi, who once advised American Muslims not to talk with FBI agents without an attorney present, and to notify CAIR or the Muslim Public Affairs Council of any investigative inquiries.
CAIR, ING, MSA and other Islamist organizations often approach schools under the guise of being concerned about bullying, then use that to leverage special concessions for Muslim students, such as Islamic prayer rooms, separate food arrangements, etc.
It wasn’t but about six weeks after the November bullying seminar at one Charleston high school that the invitations for teachers to come to the city’s only mosque appeared in mailboxes. And the advancement of Islam in West Virginia hasn’t stopped there.
Another teacher who asked not to be identified for fear of losing her job, said she was one of about 40 teachers at her school who received the invitation to the mosque. She said reactions to the invitation varied among her colleagues.
“I actually found it first and told a friend who is also a teacher. She’s pretty disturbed about the whole thing. My first reaction was disbelief. “Some teachers were very offended by it,” she added. She said most of the teachers are afraid to say anything about the invitations. But a few have voiced concerns that it may look bad for their careers if they don’t attend the event.
If the effort to get teachers indoctrinated into the belief system of Islam can happen in West Virginia, it can happen anywhere, says Mathew Staver, executive director and lead attorney with Liberty Counsel.
“I think this invitation crosses the line because it specifically indicates that the teachers are invited to come to the mosque with a Muslim association to learn about the religion of Islam, that’s the sole purpose of it, not only to learn about their culture but about the Islamic religion,” Staver said. “It was authorized by the superintendent and the principals to be sent to all the teachers in at least three schools. It would be no different than a church sending out an invitation to come and learn about the Christian students and particularly their Christian faith.”
If it had been a similar outreach by a Christian church, instead of a mosque, Staver said he feels certain the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation would be putting the school district on notice about a violation of the so-called “establishment clause” of the First Amendment.
Staver said he can’t imagine that any other faith would get this type of inside access to the teachers to invite them to a specific event designed for the teachers to learn about their religion.
“Who would think that little West Virginia would be a target but these are exactly the kind of places they think they can go into and get a foothold without anybody noticing,” said Arthur, a native West Virginian who moved back to the state in 2013.
We didn’t know at the time they were intending to establish a second Muslim resettlement site here. Looking back, when you put the pieces together it makes all the sense in world why they did it because they were expecting a second wave of migration. That’s been shelved for now, Trump happened.”
In Augusta County, Virginia, parent of 9th grade students were shocked when the class was told to copy the Shahada, the Islamic statement of faith which translates to, “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” A concerned parent said “she felt the assignment tried to indoctrinate her child into the Islamic religion.
“There was no trying about it. The sheet that she (the teacher) gave out was pure indoctrinate in its origin,” said Herndon.