A West Virginia parent expressed concern over a class assignment his seventh-grade daughter received in her social studies class asking students to transcribe the Shahada in Arabic calligraphy, and now it looks like the school is backtracking.
According to the Christian Post, Rich Penkoski’s daughter Brielle received a packet from her teacher Katherine Hinson at Mountain Ridge Middle School in Gerrardstown earlier this week that went into great detail about the history of Islam, the prophet Muhammed, and the five pillars of the faith. From there, students were instructed to practice calligraphy by hand writing one of the pillars — declaring belief in one true God and affirming Muhammad as a messenger of God.
Penkoski, who runs an online Christian ministry called Warriors for Christ, contacted Principal Ron Branch to better understand why the assignment was given out as part of the class’ world religions unit, but the administrator quickly backtracked, saying the packet was an “optional” assignment focused on calligraphy.
“I saw the assignment of writing the Shahada in Arabic. Their excuse was calligraphy,” Penkoski told the Christian Post. “First of all, calligraphy was invented in China 3,000 years prior to Muhammad … [but] my daughter told me that if she didn’t do the assignment then she was going to get a [detention] slip.”
Despite the “optional” claims, the frustrated father believes that was just the school trying to cover up its actual intentions after he spoke up.
“Why would they print all that out and then tell them they don’t have to do it?” Penkoski asked. “When they were given a packet [on Christianity], which didn’t go into that much detail, they did have to write an essay. So you’re telling me they don’t have to do it now that I called you on it? It makes no sense and it is not consistent.”
While the teacher has not responded to requests for comment, Branch maintained in an email to the Christian Post that students were by no means obliged to complete the assignment despite the fact that Penkoski claims the packet was handed was handed out a second time with certain sections taken out after he made a fuss.
“There were two calligraphy activities in the packet. One involving the Shahada and one that is just English letters in which the students can write whatever they want in calligraphy. The teacher told the students that they could do these activities if they wanted. I told Mr. Penkoski that the calligraphy activity was optional, but was not assigned. They are reading through the packet as part of the study. The teacher has told her class several times that this is a study of world religions and that she is not trying to advocate for any religion over another. She has told her class that if they had questions about religious beliefs, that those conversations should take place with their parents.”
It remains unclear what Hinson’s intention were with the Islam packet, but Penkoski remains concerned about the school’s motives considering similar assignments related to Hebrew or Biblical teachings were not given during the Jewish or Christian lessons.
“[No] Bible verses, no reciting the Ten Commandments or the Lord’s Prayer … no practicing writing in Hebrew as compared to the Islamic packet,” he said. “It’s one thing to talk about secular, but they cross the line with Islam because they went from the secular aspect of it to the faith aspect of it. Let’s be honest, if they had come home with the Lord’s Prayer, we would have atheists suing all over the place.”
(H/T: The Daily Wire)