GREENVILLE, Va. — A parent of a 9th grader in Virginia is expressing concern after her son was asked to practice Islamic calligraphy as part of his world geography class, writing, “There is no god but Allah.”
Mother Kimberly Herndon said that she was disturbed when her son, who attends Riverheads High School in Greenville, came home with the assignment last week.
“This creed is connected to jihad in that it is the chant that is shouted while beheading those of the Christian faith, or people of the cross as being called by ISIS,” she wrote on Facebook.
The lesson stated, “Here is the shahada, the Islamic statement of faith, written in Arabic. In the space below, try copying it by hand. This should give you an idea of the artistic complexity of calligraphy.”
According to reports, female students were also invited to try on a scarf in learning about Islamic dress.
Herndon, who identifies as Christian, pulled her son out of school over the matter.
“I will not have my children sit under a woman who indoctrinates them with the Islam religion when I am a Christian,” she told WHSV-TV. “And I am going to stand for Christ.”
Augusta County School Superintendent Dr. Eric Bond said that the lesson was within the curriculum, and was acceptable because it was a part of learning about Middle East culture and its religions.
“Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief,” Bond said in a statement. “Each of the lessons attempts objectively to present world religions in a way that is interesting and interactive for students.”
“The statement presented as an example of the calligraphy was not translated for students, nor were students asked to translate it, recite it or otherwise adopt or pronounce it as a personal belief,” he outlined. “They were simply asked to attempt to artistically render written Arabic in order to understand its artistic complexity.”
Bond noted that “students will engage in similar calligraphy and drawing assignments when they study China, its unique written language and the yin and yang (a traditional symbol in Taoism and Confucianism).”
Other parents expressed their concern on Tuesday at Good News Ministries in Taunton, where Herndon also spoke.