The entire school district of Augusta County, Virginia canceled school on Friday after a run-of-the-mill homework assignment on world religions drew an insane barrage of threatening phone calls and emails.
According to Vox, the students were given a worksheet on Islam as part of a world religions curriculum that aimed to teach students about, well, the religions of the world. The worksheet asked students to copy a statement of faith called the shahada to get a feel for Arabic calligraphy.
“The worksheet asked students to try to copy the shahada — the statement that “there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah,” the pillar of Muslim faith — in order to understand the complexity of Arabic calligraphy.”
According to The News Leader, “Students were also reportedly shown copies of the Quran” and did a workshop on the religious garments worn by Muslims.
Unsurprisingly enough, the worksheet prompted a hysterical reaction from parents who believed their children were being “indoctrinated” with the teachings of Islam. “If my truth can not be spoken in schools, I don’t want false doctrine spoken in schools,” said concerned parent Kimberly Herndon at a forum on the incident that was ironically held in a church. “That’s what keeps it even across the board.” Obviously still sore her kids can’t pray to Jesus on school time anymore, she added, “She gave up the Lord’s time. She gave it up and gave it to Mohammed.” Numerous parents called for the teacher in question to be fired.
In a vain attempt to explain the idea of studying religion as an academic subject, Augusta County Superintendent Eric Bond wrote in a press release:
“Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief. Each of the lessons attempts objectively to present world religions in a way that is interesting and interactive for students.”
But by this time, the hysteria had spread to the wider internet and threats to the school came rolling in via phone and email. Considering how many mass shootings have been committed by ring wing zealots in the past year alone, the school district made the rational choice to start winter break a day early. On Thursday evening, the district announced the closing with an announcement on its website.
“Following parental objections to the World Geography curriculum and ensuing related media coverage, the school division began receiving voluminous phone calls and electronic mail locally and from outside the area. As a result of those communications, the Sheriff’s Office and the school division coordinated to increase police presence at Augusta County schools and to monitor those communications. The communications have significantly increased in volume today and based on concerns regarding the tone and content of those communications, Sheriff Fisher and Dr. Bond mutually decided schools and school offices will be closed on Friday, December 18, 2015. While there has been no specific threat of harm to students, schools and school offices will be closed Friday, December 18, 2015. All extra-curricular activities are likewise canceled for tonight, Thursday, December 17, through the weekend. We regret having to take this action, but we are doing so based on the recommendations of law enforcement and the Augusta County School Board out of an abundance of caution.”
And one more generation of young Americans were doomed to complete their education without learning a damn thing about Islam from anyone but Donald Trump and their xenophobic parents.
[h/t Vox | Image via WHSV]