NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TheBlaze/AP) – A state Republican lawmaker is proposing legislation that would ban teaching Tennessee public school students "religious doctrine" until they're in high school.
The proposal from Rep. Sheila Butt of Columbia would prohibit the teaching of anything deemed religious doctrine unless the course is taught in 10th, 11th or 12th grade.
"I think that probably the teaching that is going on right now in seventh, eighth grade is not age appropriate," Butt told the Tennessean newspaper. "They are not able to discern a lot of times whether its indoctrination or whether they're learning about what a religion teaches."
But the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is the nation's largest Muslim advocacy organization, said the bill is aimed to single out Islam over other major world religions.
"Islamophobes like Rep. Butt fail to recognize that there is a big difference between teaching students about religion as an important part of world history and promoting particular religious beliefs,” CAIR spokesman Robert McCaw said. “The education of children in Tennessee should not be delayed because of anti-Muslim bigotry."
Islam is just one major world religion that is currently being taught in Tennessee classrooms. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and a number of other religions are also taught to students who are not in high school.
The measure comes on the heels of complaints from some parents in several communities as to what their children are learning in middle school about Islam.
The concept of "religious doctrine" is never defined in Tennessee law but there is a reference to the concept in a portion of the law related to using the Bible in school.
The law says the Bible may be used in class, as long as the course doesn't include "teaching of religious doctrine or sectarian interpretation of the Bible or of texts from other religious or cultural traditions."