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Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Md. Family Says High School Promotes Islam

(CN) - The parents of a Maryland teenager claim in court that the Charles County Public School system forces their daughter to take classes that promote Islam over Christianity and Judaism.

In a complaint filed in Greenbelt Federal Court, Melissa and John Wood claim the district's board of education and administrators at their daughter's high school force the 11th grader to complete assignments in her world history class that conflict with her deeply held Christian beliefs.

"United States Supreme Court precedent does not create a double standard that allows for the promotion of Islam in our public schools while disallowing and silencing the teachings of Christianity and Judaism," the Jan. 27 complaint says.

The Woods say they and their daughter, identified as C.W. in the court documents, have been "harshly punished for voicing concerns about the desecration of their Christian beliefs and heritage and the promotion of the Islamic faith in the defendants' world history class."

John Wood, a former U.S. Marine and Gulf War veteran who was also a first responder at the Pentagon following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, says he was profoundly affected by witnessing "friends and innocent civilians killed and brutalized in the name of Islam."

As a result, he says, when he discovered the school was teaching his daughter about Islam, he called the principal to voice his concern and request an alternative assignment for her.

Wood claims the defendants responded by issuing a no-trespass order on him.

The Woods say after they made the school aware of their concerns, C.W. was removed from the history class, relegated to a library, and forced to take failing grades for the assignments related to Islam.

The Woods say this is unconscionably unfair to their daughter and simply wrong on its face.

They claim the history teacher at Charles County's La Plata High School not only required C.W. to "to write out the Islamic creed 'Shahada,' which says, "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah," but also failed to clearly make known to students and their families that a study of Islam was to be part of the class curriculum.

The Woods say there was no mention of the teaching of Islam in the class syllabus, nor was any notice given that of the two textbooks used in class, one extensively focuses on Islam.

The family goes on to claim that C.W.'s class spent only one day on the study of Christianity, but spent two weeks on the subject of Islam.

Students were also required to memorize and recite the Five Pillars of Islam and were subjected to disparaging teachings about Christianity, the Woods claim.

They go on to assert that at least one of the worksheets used in the class stated, "Most Muslim's faith is stronger than the average Christian."

Attorney Richard Thompson, of Thomas More Law, one of the two firms representing the family, said in a statement that the "Defendants forced Wood's daughter to disparage her Christian faith by reciting the 'Shahada' and acknowledging Mohammed as her spiritual leader."

As a result, Thompson said, the school district is guilty of nothing short of "Islamic indoctrination."

"Parents must be ever vigilant to the Islamic indoctrination of their children under the guise of teaching history and multiculturalism. This is happening in public schools across the country. And they must take action to stop it," his statement concluded.

The defendants in the case are La Plata High School principal Evelyn Arnold and vice principal Shannon Morris, the Charles County Public Schools and its board of education.

The Woods seek declaratory and injunctive relief barring the promotion of Islam over other religions on school grounds and a lifting of a no-trespass order against John Wood.

Representatives of the defendants did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment from Courthouse News.

Michael Moran of Middle River, Md. is the lead attorney for the Woods.

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