(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/12/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on Tennesseans of all faiths and backgrounds to contact their elected representatives in the state legislature and Governor Bill Haslam to oppose an anti-Islam bill that would prohibit schools from teaching “religious doctrine” until high school.
CAIR said the bill is tied to Islamophobic claims about “Islamic indoctrination” in state schools.
The bill (House Bill 1418) has been pre-filed for consideration next year by Tennessee Majority Floor Leader Sheila Butt (R-District 64) and would prohibit “teaching any form of religious doctrine to the students” and “not include religious doctrine in any curriculum standards for grades prior to grades ten through twelve (10–12).”
The introduction of the bill is being fueled by rising hysteria over the false claim that middle schoolers are being subjected to “Islamic indoctrination” because the basic tenets of Islam and Muslim world history is being taught as part of a state-approved curriculum about the impact world religions have on history. Islam is only one of the many world religions being taught in the curriculum that includes Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, among other religions and belief systems.
“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,” said CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw. “The education of children in Tennessee should not be delayed because of anti-Muslim bigotry.”
In February, CAIR called on Republican Party leaders in Tennessee to repudiate a racist comment Rep. Butt posted on Facebook when she wrote: “[I]t is time for a Council on Christian Relations and an NAAWP in this Country.”
The comment was in response to CAIR’s open letter to potential Republican presidential candidates urging them to reject Islamophobia and to reach out to American Muslim voters.
The reference to “NAAWP” is an apparent racist twist to the name of the African-American civil rights organization, the NAACP, or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “NAAWP” would therefore mean “National Association for the Advancement of White People.” Butt’s post has since been deleted and claims that she was only referring to “Western People”.
Black Caucus seeks apology for GOP lawmaker’s comment
CAIR Asks Tennessee GOP to Repudiate Sheila Butt’s Racist Facebook Post
In March, CAIR issued another Tennessee action alert calling on state representatives to oppose a state bill (HB 1141 and SB 1040) which would have vilify the state’s Muslim community by directing the Tennessee attorney general to eliminate imaginary “no-go zones.”
“No-go zones” refers to a discredited and universally mocked claim that Muslims in Europe have set up zones that people of other faiths and police are not allowed to enter. The bills failed to pass.
In September, CAIR called on public officials to act to protect the civil rights of Tennessee’s Muslim community following anti-Islam remarks by two of that state’s sheriffs.
CAIR Calls for Protection of Tennessee Muslims Following Another Sheriff’s Anti-Islam Comments
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.