VIERA, Fl. – A public school district in eastern Florida is grappling with allegations that one of their history textbooks touts a strong pro-Muslim bias.
Brevard Public School district, home to approximately 70,000 students, currently uses a Prentice Hall textbook titled “World History” for many 9th grade classes. According to reports, the history book is popular throughout the state of Florida, with roughly 50% of the state’s high school students using it in recent years. The Brevard district alone owns 5,000 copies of the $80 book.
However, during the public comment time of the school board’s July 23rd meeting, a number of local residents voiced concerns regarding the Prentice Hall history book. According to meeting minutes posted on the school district’s website, half a dozen individuals testified before the board about the textbook situation.
At issue with the textbook is its unbalanced treatment of the major monotheistic world religions. Critics say the book focuses heavily on the basic tenants of Islam, with much less emphasis on Christianity, Judaism, or any other faith. As reported by various outlets, World History features long passages from the Koran, but does not cite a single verse from the Bible. One teacher’s edition of the book even recommends that teachers assign students excerpts of the Koran to personally read. In addition, the book describes Muhammed as “God’s messenger,” but—in contrast—mentions Jesus by saying, “Some believe he was the messiah.” And those who have reviewed the book say it devotes 36 pages to describing Islam, but only three paragraphs to Christianity.
Representative Ritch Workman—a Florida state legislator representing the Melbourne area—testified before the Brevard Public School board last month, criticizing the book’s unbalanced treatment of world religions.
“[The textbook is] remarkably offensive to me,” Workman said, according to Orlando’s WESH.com. “This book very much sugarcoats the rise of Islam to be this wonderful new world order while teaching Christianity as dogmatic.”
Dr. William Saxton is chairman of the Citizens for National Security—an organization committed to identifying and preventing Islamic extremism in the United States. During the July 23rd meeting, Saxton told members of the board, “You are using an Islam-biased, flawed textbook that has neither partially nor fully been corrected.”
“They promote Islam at the expense of Christianity and Judaism,” Saxton told Fox News. “It blew my mind to see the kind of propaganda, the pro-Islam information that’s in this book—at the expense of Christianity and Judaism.”
In a recent statement, a spokeswoman for Brevard Public Schools defended the controversial textbook, saying “an analysis of one textbook cannot provide a balanced understanding as to what the students in Brevard Public Schools are learning throughout their academic careers.”
Similarly, Susan Aspey of Prentice Hall publishers told reporters that the book is in fact impartial to various religions.
“Pearson and its authors adhere to the highest editorial standards when creating course materials, which undergo a rigorous review process,” she stated. “A review of the book shows there is balanced attention given to the beliefs of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.”
However, after personally examining the textbook, school board member Amy Kneesy told reporters that she quickly noticed several biases, especially when it came to discussions of Christianity and Judaism versus Islam.
“When wars were involving Jewish people or Christians, some very hard adjectives were used—like ‘massacre,’” she explained. “Whereas when it was a Muslim group, it was ‘occupy’ or a very innocuous term. … War is never clean and tidy; wars are bloody. People die and bad things happen. The facts need to be reported fairly from all perspectives.”
“I am concerned [World History] is more ammunition that continues to water down what this country was founded on,” Kneesy continued. “This country was founded with Christian values. God was very much a part of our government. When you take the religious context out of it, then you take away the very heart of what this country was founded on.”
School officials are currently in the process of reviewing the textbook and considering possible action.
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