Schools are Teaching Islam but Banning Christianity: These Jersey Moms Want to Find Out Why

Nancy Gayer and Libby Hilsenrath are on a mission to change the way their sons' school teaches religion.

By Nancy Flory Published on February 23, 2017

There’s a new trend in public school curriculum that, chances are, you know nothing about. If you think your kids are getting an unbiased education and that all forms of religion are left out of the classroom, think again. Your child, like many others, may be subjected to Islamic indoctrination. That’s exactly what’s happening in schools in New Jersey. But in one small town, two moms are fighting back.

‘No Bible in School’

It all started several years ago when Nancy Gayer’s middle-schooler put together a PowerPoint presentation about giving winter hats and gloves to children who couldn’t afford them. One slide of the presentation had a Bible verse: “Caring for the poor is lending to the Lord, and you will be well repaid.” (Prov. 19:17) The slide took all of 1.3 seconds, but that was enough to alarm the teacher, Nancy told The Stream in an interview. The teacher told the boy that his slide show belonged in Sunday School, not the classroom, and refused to allow it to be presented it to the class. She told Nancy that it was “proselytizing.” So Nancy went to the vice-principal. “He said, ‘We can’t show this in school, it’s not allowed.'” The superintendent said the same thing, that it was not allowed and mentioned that he would obtain legal advice and/or counsel. Nancy said she was intimidated, considered it a threat, and decided that she would let it go. 

Fast-forward to this year.

The moms were disturbed to learn that the boys were studying the doctrines and tenets of the Muslim faith, including the five pillars of Islam.

Familiarization of the Five Pillars as Homework

Nancy Gayer and Libby Hilsenrath’s boys are in the seventh grade at the same school. The moms were disturbed to learn that the boys were studying the doctrines and tenets of the Muslim faith, including the five pillars of Islam. One assignment required them to complete the sentence, “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger.” Further, the class curriculum included a 20-slide PowerPoint presentation about Islam, and two videos, one of which was a cartoon character teaching a non-Muslim friend about Islam, the second of which taught the five pillars of Islam.

“We are not anti-religion, we are not anti-Muslim, we are not bigoted people by any means,” said Nancy. “We care about people. But we care about the truth.” The moms just want equality in teaching religions. “If Islam is taught, teach Christianity, too. [My son] couldn’t even put a Bible verse in his presentation that was student-initiated. So they’re not only teaching Islam, but they’re not allowing students to be free in expressing their religious beliefs,” one said.

The school is also flouting its own written rules. Chatham School District Policy 2270 states in part:

The Board of Education directs that no religious belief or nonbelief shall be promoted in the regular curriculum or in district-sponsored courses, programs or activities, and none shall be disparaged.

“They’re not only teaching Islam, but they’re not allowing students to be free in expressing their religious beliefs,” said Nancy. 

The Core Curriculum of New Jersey Includes … Islam?

Libby addressed this concern at the Board of Education meeting, asking that the Board, the Policy Committee and the Curriculum Committee review this course to determine whether it was in line with school policy. She received a dismissive response by Superintendent Dr. Michael LaSusa:

I don’t think we’ll be eliminating the instruction in Islam because it is part of the New Jersey curriculum core content standards to teach students about the various religions of the world.

At the meeting, Dr. LaSusa offered to meet with anyone if they had more questions. But that didn’t happen. In fact, when the two moms requested a meeting with LaSusa the day after the Board of Education meeting, he responded that he would not be meeting with the women as their meeting would not be “productive.”

On Monday, February 20, 2017, the women were invited as guests to the Tucker Carlson Tonight show to discuss the issues with the school’s curriculum.
 

 
When the producer of the Tucker Carlson Tonight show called the superintendent, he responded, in part: 

The lessons on Islam that some of our parents have raised as an issue comprise approximately three days out of a 180-day school year. Further, in the scope of our full curriculum, content addressing Islam does not represent a disproportionate amount of time or resources.  

“[My] question to him would be, ‘Do you spend three days on Christianity? Do you spend three days on Judaism? Do you spend three days on Buddhism? Do you spend three days on Taoism? Do you spend three days on Sikhism?'” said Libby. “It’s an absolutely backwards argument.”

Libby tried to find out from the K-12 Director of Social Studies curriculum prior to the February 6, 2017 Board of Education meeting whether other religions beside Islam were covered. She got a response that she considers, while factual, disingenuous. “I asked him, ‘Do you teach the Bible in your curriculum?’ and he said, ‘No, but here’s where they will encounter Christianity and Judaism,’ and he listed a bunch of things. The one that I remember off the top of my head is during one of the classes they watch a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., where he quotes Isaiah. His answers were absurd to me.”

A Vicious Backlash Against Parents

The women expected to get backlash from the school district. They didn’t expect the type of response they’ve received from the community. The women agree that of all the responses they’ve had, 99 percent has been negative. “They are mean, they are calling us names, they are calling us bigots and idiots,” said Nancy. “They have been so unkind because of their lack of knowledge about what we said and a misunderstanding of our message.”

“The reception that we got from the Board of Education and from the superintendent in particular was dismissive,” said Libby. “And then, the reception we got from the public was just awful. And these are parents, these are adults. The same adults who say, ‘what example are you setting for your kids?’ Well, what example are you setting for your kids posting this horrible, horrible things on Facebook? What kind of example is that?”

How Long Will Public Schools Teach Islam?

For now, the women aren’t taking this to court, although that action hasn’t been ruled out. “Our plan is to go back to the next Board of Education meeting which is on March 6. We’ll ask the committees if they’re going to take it under consideration,” said Libby “…to hopefully affect change in the curriculum for the better.” Nancy added, “We’ve not been given the opportunity to address these things in a constructive, adult meeting. I think these are things that would benefit all students…. If they [the school board and principal] were more forthcoming, then the onus falls on the parent, ‘Okay, we put it out there and if you didn’t look at it, it’s on you.’ But it’s the opposite here.”

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  • Nick Stuart

    Those Jersey moms need to wake up and get their kids out of the government schools. Every year kids come in and out. The bureaucracy and entrenched teachers are there forever.

    • Joseph Hicswa

      Very enlightening. Thank you.

  • Triple T

    There’s nothing wrong with learning about another religion as part of a historical context. I also remember learning about the Five Pillars of Islam in my global studies class in high school. However, there’s a big difference between that and being required to memorize verses from the Koran. This sort of indoctrination should not occur in a school

    • pearl87 ✓ᴰᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

      I understand your desire to be open minded, but there IS INDEED something wrong with learning the tenets of any faith in a public school system that purports to subscribe to “separation of church and state”. This was the pretext under which non-denominational Christian prayer was eliminated from American schools which were attended by 99% Christian children. The problem with this is obvious. It provides an opportunity for unscrupulous “educators” to impose beliefs on children which are opposed to those of the parents. And it’s clear that this school district is engaging in anti-Christian discrimination to boot.

      • Triple T

        But it’s fine when done correctly. We did not learn about Islam to the exclusion of any other religion, it was simply part of the unit that covered the Middle East, much the same way that there was a mention of Hinduism in the unit on India and Buddhism in the unit on China. History and religion are pretty interwoven and it’s hard to learn about one without mentioning the other. Of course, that’s assuming the teacher is doing his or her job properly and just sticking to the facts.

      • Joseph Hicswa

        Thank you. Good response.

  • Irene Neuner

    I can’t understand how parents who care can place their children in a government school.

    • pearl87 ✓ᴰᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

      They don’t all care too much.

    • Here’s two reasons:
      1. Cost.
      2. Just because it’s a religious school doesn’t guarantee it will really provide a solid moral environment for people’s children.

      If you’re able to handle the extra expense, do your homework to make sure you will be getting what you’re hoping to get.

      • Irene Neuner

        We homeschool the three oldest of our five and are doing private school homework right now. You are correct it is either a massive time or money sacrifice and private schools are found lacking. However, government schools even in small, religious, country and small towns are screwed up big time and the city schools (rich and poor) are either not o.k. or very bad.

        Additionally, I don’t understand how thinking, moral people can tolerate cable tv even for the sports. It is either “not good” or very bad.

    • Joseph Hicswa

      Hi! Good point. BUT… parents pay taxes for public schools and teacers to educate their children that’s why school vouchers are necessary–IF/WHEN a Charter school is in the vicinity.

    • tekwrite

      Because all the taxes force mothers to work whether they want to or not.

      • Irene Neuner

        The more you make the more they (the government) takes!

        Most mothers around me work full time after their babies are 6 weeks but even the affordable daycares total out pretty high for year round care. Atleast 7-8K/year per child on the low end (1 provider to 12 children.) Private nannies start at 30K+. So after you get your salary, have a second car, and pay for child care only the wealthiest are gaining that much for the sacrifice.

  • Christian Cowboy

    There is an agenda that is being followed – also – when we open our borders and want to be everything to everybody – then we become nothing to anybody.

    • Joseph Hicswa

      Hey Cowboy, WELL SAID! “wanting to be everything to everbody means GOOD & BAD!.

  • Michael Gore

    How can anyone be surprised at the actions of Leftists anymore these days. Ideologically, Biblical Christianity is the chief opposition to the Moral claims of Leftism. Is it any wonder they will do anything to weaken it within society.

    On the other hand, I think kids should be taught about Islam, and other world religions in school. The problem is that they are often not taught TRUE things about the different religious systems. While Islam is not monolithic, anyone who does not understand that Islam is often nearly as much a political system as well as a religious system, is not going to understand Islam (worldwide) at all. But without actually understanding what people of different beliefs actually believe and why, we will never really be able to interact with them in a meaningful way.

  • Joseph Hicswa

    i AGREE WITH THE MOTHERS. THEY HAVE RIGHT/OBLIGATION TO PROTECT RIGHTS OF THEIR CHILDREN. RE: RELIGION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. MOMS SHOULD REQUEST HELP FROM ACLU. IF THEY REFUSE, IT WOULD BE NEWS.
    SUGGESTION: A WAY FOR VIEWERS TO FORWARD ENDORSEMENTS TO NJ GOVERNOR, AND LEGISLATORS AT END OF EACH ARTICLE.

  • Resister

    Islam is being pushed for two reasons. It is a religion of top down control and it brings instability into western cultures. That instability will be used by the state to bring security at the expense of freedom. Socialism has to be forced onto free thinking cultures. Once it breaks the logjam that is the United States, socialism will rule the earth by force.

  • tekwrite

    Where are all the so called separation of church and state whiners NOW? Crickets…

  • Kandi Henry

    I’m with them! For these two mother and that school district, I will pray! We serve a greater God! Remember the good Lord says, when you fight in His name, there will be adversity. But, keep up the good fight! This is why we homeschool. We use Apologetics for our curriculum. Check it out! #truthinlearning

  • From Up North

    Then if they are going to teach Islam then show them how little girls are wed and raped at an early age? What about be headings? And all the real horror it represents.

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