The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up the case of a Christian high school student who claims her constitutional rights were violated when she was forced to write on a worksheet, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
The justices, without comment, refused Oct. 15 to hear an appeal of the case from the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had ruled the teacher at La Plata High School in Charles County, Md., did not violate the free speech or religious rights of the student, Caleigh Wood. She was in the 11th grade at the time and refused to complete the assignment. She received a failing grade.
“The Supreme Court has recognized the secular value of studying religion on a comparative basis,” the Fourth Circuit ruled in February.
The Thomas More Law Center represented the student.
Wood and her classmates viewed PowerPoint slides, one of which stated, “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.” They also were told to fill out a worksheet about the “Five Pillars” of Islam. It was on that worksheet that students were required to write, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” The profession of faith is called the Shahada.
Thomas More alleged that the assignment violated the Establishment Clause by “impermissibly endors[ing] and advanc[ing] the Islamic religion.”
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, expressed disappointment that the Supreme Court refused the case.
“I’m not aware of any public school which has forced a Muslim student to write the Lord’s Prayer or John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,’” Thompson said.
“Yet, under the pretext of teaching history or social studies, public schools across America are promoting the religion of Islam in ways that would never be tolerated for Christianity or any other religion,” Thompson added. “It’s disappointing that the Supreme Court did not take this opportunity to clarify the test which lower courts should use when ruling on establishment clause and free speech challenges to public school classes on religion.”
The PowerPoint also included slides that read, “Islam at heart is a peaceful religion,” and, “To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism.”
The school refused to give her an alternative assignment.
“Many public schools have become hot beds of Islamic propaganda. Teaching Islam in schools has gone far beyond a basic history lesson,” Thompson said. “Prompted by zealous Islamic activism and emboldened by confusing court decisions, schools are now bending over backwards to promote Islam while at the same time denigrating Christianity.
“Although the Supreme Court passed up an opportunity to provide clearer constitutional guidance on this important issue, there will be other chances as this issue isn’t going away anytime soon.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Brian P. Irwin
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.