Tennessee lawmakers pass bill against religious indoctrination of students

A poster from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) denouncing the indoctrination of American students into Islam(Facebook/ACLJ)

Lawmakers in Tennessee have passed a bill that allows the teaching of religion in public schools but not in a way that proselytises any religion or religious belief to students who have a different faith.

In an 82-2 vote, the Tennessee state House passed HB1905, a measure that seeks to counter the Islamic "indoctrination" of students in some American public schools, the Gospel Herald reported.

The bill requires that any inclusion of religion in textbooks, instructional materials, curriculum, or academic standards be for educational purposes only and not to be used to proselytise any religion or religious belief.

Before the 2016-2017 school year, according to the bill, each local education agency (LEA) is required to adopt a policy on the appropriate religious instructional materials and these would have to be open for public comment before these are adopted.

It also requires each LEA to make the syllabus available to the public for grade 6 to 12 in social studies, science, math and English language arts courses.

These include a course calendar such as standards, objectives and topics covered; major assignments required; and procedures for parental access to instructional materials.

The bill will also require the state board of education to revise the social studies standards adopted in 2013 with the aim of ensuring that the standards do not promote religion and do not amount to indoctrination or proselytism.

"This piece of legislation is in direct response to many of our constituents who have been concerned about the way religion has been taught in Tennessee schools," said the bill's sponsor, Republican state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, according to the Times Free Press.

He said the concern "is about the possible indoctrination."

The teaching of Islam in some U.S. public schools has raised concerns among parents in some states.

At Antioch's Apollo Middle School in Tennessee, students are taught since August not only Islam but six other religions: Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Confucianism, Daoism and African religions, according to Nashville Public Radio.

Students get to know each religion's founding figures, places of origin, common practices and basic beliefs.

Jullie Mauck has children at the Williamson County school system and she said schools are not places for 12 and 13-year-olds to learn about religion.

"I mean, being a Christian, I don't necessarily want the public school system teaching my children their version of Christianity," she told the Nashville Public Radio.

She added that the social studies curriculum "just whitewashes the history. There's barely a mention of jihad. There's barely a mention — or I don't think there is — a mention of caliphate and what their objective is."