More states should follow their lead. Like all of them.
A Republican in Tennessee’s state legislature has proposed a bill that would prohibit the teaching of any sort of “religious doctrine” in the state’s schools until at least the 10th grade.
“I think that probably the teaching that is going on right now in seventh, eighth grade is not age appropriate,” Rep. Sheila Butt of Columbia told The Tennessean.
“They are not able to discern a lot of times whether its indoctrination or whether they’re learning about what a religion teaches,” the lawmaker added.
While her bill encompasses anything deemed “religious,” the Muslim advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations believes the proposal is aimed squarely at the Islamic faith.
“Islamophobes like Rep. Butt fail to recognize that there is a big difference between teaching students about religion as an important part of world history and promoting particular religious beliefs,” CAIR spokesman Robert McCaw said in a posting to the group’s website.
“The education of children in Tennessee should not be delayed because of anti-Muslim bigotry,” McCaw added.
The bill, however, says nothing about Islam; it would apply equally to all religions.
All of the major world religions are currently taught in Tennessee schools at the middle school level, but parents in numerous communities have complained about some of the subject matter being taught regarding Islam.
Although “religious doctrine” isn’t specifically defined in Tennessee law, it is referenced in a statute dealing with the use of the Bible in the classroom.
That law states that a Bible may be used as a teaching tool in the classroom, provided the course doesn’t include “teaching of religious doctrine or sectarian interpretation of the Bible or of texts from other religious or cultural traditions.”