CENTRAL HIGH – An upset mother set up a two-person protest at Seven Mile and Broncho Road just off Central High’s campus Wednesday after claiming her child was told to complete an assignment relating to “Islamic Christianity.”
Joanie Antholz said her son, a sophomore at Central High, was assigned to write a report about Islam for his humanities class. The class, which discusses a plethora of world cultures, is offered as an elective at the school, according to Superintendent Bennie Newton, and has been for five years.
Antholz stated as a parent, she should know what is being taught in the classroom, and though her child did receive a syllabus, she said, “If they would let the parents know what was being taught, I could guarantee you that most parents would not want them teaching that or at least would tell them, ‘You’re not teaching my kid that.’”
She further argued there’s a big difference between learning about a culture and a religion and stated, “That’s indoctrinating my child to something that’s not good for them.”
“Islam is not a culture,” Antholz said. “A culture is when you take, you know, agriculture and the religion and the technology, all of that makes up the civilization of a culture. Islam is a religion. (The teacher) didn’t say do a report on the Muslim culture, do a report on the Middle East, (the teacher) said do a report on Islam.”
Newton’s attention was drawn to the assignment by Antholz earlier that morning and said, “There is a chapter in the book that deals with the Islam culture. However, the book deals with all of the different cultures ... We are not teaching Islamic Christianity. I can promise you that. The book is an introduction to the different cultures. That’s just part of the book.”
Because Antholz and her friend, Amy Calloway, who doesn’t have any children in school at the moment, are raising the question on the class’s teachings after five years and bolstered signs reading “Parents against Islam in our schools” outside the school Wednesday, Newton assured he would be reviewing the one chapter on Islamic culture to know for certain what the book does and does not say.
“We are not teaching Islamic Christianity,” Newton repeated. “This course has been taught for five years ... We’ve used the same book for five years, and this is the first time that we’ve had the question come up about it. We appreciate the concern and we’re certainly going to look into it and make a sound judgment on what needs to happen or not happen based on what we find and what we read in the book.”
Antholz told The Banner in an interview she wants alternative assignments made available for her student and doesn’t agree with her son learning the Five Pillars of Islam, which include the testimony of faith, prayer, giving “zakat” or support of the needy, fasting during Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Makkah, in class.
“It’s what their religion stands for,” Antholz said in her protest to the humanities class’s teachings. “It’s violent. It’s nasty. It’s not like Allah is the God of peace like they’re all trying to make it out. He’s calling for people to be murdered.”
Newton said excusing a child from one lesson and providing them with an alternative assignment is not a problem at all in his school.
“I told the parent this morning if she wishes her child not to be a part of that discussion or (read) a part of that book, that was acceptable and we would find an alternative assignment,” Newton stated. “He would not be penalized in any way, shape, fashion or form for that. I told her all she had to do was let us know in writing she wishes her child not to participate, and he won’t participate. No one is being forced to take it.”
Antholz said she is working to gather a larger group for a protest in Duncan in nearing weeks.