A brave high school student takes a stand against religious indoctrination in the classroom, sparking a legal battle that reaches the Supreme Court.
The Christian high school student from Maryland refused to complete an assignment that asked her to write an Islamic prayer, as she felt it went against her faith. Determined to stand up against the school’s apparent bias, she fought back.
Caleigh Wood was given an assignment during her junior year at La Plata High School, which focused on the principles of Islam. She discovered that the material contained misleading information, including several claims that seemed to promote the Islamic faith, such as: “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian,” and “Islam at heart is a peaceful religion.”
The school went a step further, requiring students to affirm in writing that Allah is the one true god. When Wood objected, citing her Christian beliefs and constitutional right to religious freedom, she received a zero on the assignment.
Instead of quietly accepting her failing grade, Wood and her family sought legal action against the school, claiming it violated the First Amendment by forcing her to profess faith in a religion other than her own. Although the Federal District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the school, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) took the case to the Supreme Court.
The TMLC argued that the school’s curriculum not only discriminated against Christianity by presenting biased opinions as facts but also promoted Islam in the classroom.
In a statement, TMLC President and Chief Counsel Richard Thompson said:
“Under the guise 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.” He added, “I’m not aware of any 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.’”
The school defended its actions, stating that the lessons were taught from a secular perspective without compelling Wood to profess any belief. Attorney Andrew Scott supported the school, arguing that religion is an integral part of history and must be taught. Scott stated, “Religion is an integral part of history. You can’t ignore it. The key is to teach it from a secular perspective – and not to proselytize.”
However, critics argue that only one side of Islam and history is being presented, which amounts to a whitewashing of the facts. The courts ultimately decided to leave the lessons to the teachers’ discretion.
Though Wood has since graduated and the Supreme Court denied her appeal, her case serves as a sobering reminder of the religious indoctrination taking place in our education system. It’s essential that schools avoid promoting one faith over another by presenting biased opinions as facts.