February 2016 Church & State - February 2015

Va. County Closes School Over Islam Lesson

  AU admin

Augusta County, Va., public schools temporarily closed in December due to public backlash to a World Geography lesson. Riverheads High School teacher Cheryl LaPorte asked students to copy the shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith, as part of a lesson on Arabic calligraphy.

Kimberly Herndon, a local parent, blasted the assignment.

“I am preparing to confront the county on this issue of the Muslim indoctrination taking place here in an Augusta County school. This evil has been cloaked in the form of multiculturalism,” she wrote in a Facebook post. Herndon later organized community meetings to call for LaPorte’s termination.

The school district received so many threats that it ended classes early for the week on the recommendation of the local sheriff’s department.

In a post for the “Wall of Separation” blog, Americans United’s communications associate, Sarah Jones, called LaPorte’s lesson “problematic” but noted, “Having said that, the reaction of some people in the community seems over the top. Herndon and some other county residents seem to be angry that students are learning about Islam at all.”


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Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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