A Christian pastor confronted a West Virginia middle school this week after his daughter came home with an assignment that asked her seventh-grade class to “write their submission to Allah as their one true god in Arabic calligraphy.”
Specifically, students were asked to “practice calligraphy by copying the Arabic form of the Shahada by hand,” according to published reports. The Shahada refers to the "Islamic profession of faith that declares belief in one true God and Muhammad being a messenger of God."
Brielle Penkoski, student at Mountain Ridge Middle School in Gerrardstown, brought the assignment home and showed it to her father, Rich Penkoski, a Christian who runs an online ministry called Warriors for Christ.
"I saw the assignment of writing the Shahada in Arabic. Their excuse was calligraphy," he told The Christian Post. "I was like, 'Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!' First of all, calligraphy was invented in China 3,000 years prior to Muhammad. The fact that they were trying to get my daughter to write that disturbed me.'"
“I said, 'That is not happening. My daughter is not doing that,'" Penkoski said. "My daughter told me that if she didn't do the assignment then she was going to get a [detention] slip."
Penkoski told the Post he contacted the school and was told the teacher, Katherine Hinson, gave the assignment as “optional reading.”
Penkoski said he believes the school may have changed the requirements because he complained.
“Why would they print all that out and then tell them they don't have to do it?" Penkoski said. "When they were given a packet [on Christianity], which didn't go into that much detail, they did have to write an essay. So you're telling me they don't have to do it now that I called you on it? It makes no sense and it is not consistent."
The next day, on Tuesday, the teacher reportedly re-issued the assignment with some areas of the paperwork crossed off. Penkoski's daughter, Brielle, told him the class was still asked to do the calligraphy assignment.
For the second time, he called school principal, Ron Branch.
Branch told the concerned parent there would be no repercussions for students who do not complete the activity for the course on world religions, the report stated.
What else is the school teaching?
This is not the first time Penkoski complained about the school’s teachings. Last year, his daughter was shown a class video about suicide prevention that featured a scene with two male high school students in bed together, the report stated.
The Berkeley County School District later said the video was not approved by the district, and the content was not approved. The Post cited other school assignments that have sparked outrage.
Is this happening elsewhere?
Seventh-graders in the Maury County School District in Tennessee were issued an assignment in 2015 that asked students to write "Allah is the only god" as part of teachings on Islam's pillar of creed. The conservative legal group American Center for Law and Justice, indicated that more than 7,000 Tennessee residents complained about the assignment, the report stated.
Earlier this year, New Jersey students in a World Cultures and Geography class watched videos that allegedly featured Islamic propaganda and even encouraged conversion to Islam.
In 2016, a Maryland couple sued a school district claiming that it was guilty of indoctrinating students when teaching about the five pillars of Islam by "requiring" them write out Islamic statements of faith.