Presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden told attendees at the Muslim Voters Summit this week that more should be taught about Islam in our public schools.
Biden included Islam as one of the "great confessional faiths" and said, "I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith. I wish we talked about all the great confessional faiths. It's one of the great confessional faiths."
The online summit was hosted by Emgage Action, a political action group that endorsed Biden in April, and that hopes to turn out a million Muslim voters for Biden in November. A number of Muslim American officials, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) signed a letter organized by Emgage Action endorsing Biden on Monday.
"We all come from the same root here in terms of our fundamental basic beliefs," Biden told the Muslim summit, "and I just want to thank you for giving me the opportunity, for being engaged, for committing to action this November."
But not everyone agrees that Islam should be lumped into the same so-called confessional-type faiths as Christianity and Judaism. One major concern is Islam's historic effort to dominate to the exclusion of all other religions. In a piece about the push to get Muslims elected to public office, published last week by Robert Spencer, he quotes the co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Omar Ahmad, as saying: "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
Spencer says when confronted about these words, Ahmad vehemently denied saying them. But Spencer writes that "the original reporter, Lisa Gardiner of the Fremont Argus, hardly a hardline 'Islamophobe' with an axe to grind, stood by her story." What's more, he cites CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper who once said: "I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future."
Meanwhile, Spencer writes, according to a captured internal document, "the Muslim Brotherhood (to which all the major Muslim groups in the US, including CAIR, are linked) is dedicated in its own words to 'eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within, and sabotaging its miserable house….so that it falls, and Allah's religion is victorious over other religions'."
Groups like CAIR encourage Muslim input into textbook selection and the shaping of Islamic curricula for the public schools, which only adds to many people's concerns about Biden's suggestion to broaden Islamic studies in America's schools.
The American Center for Law and Justice, a religious liberty watchdog, reports numerous cases in recent years where teaching of Islam has moved from general knowledge of the religion to indoctrination of school children. On its website the ACLJ cites some assignments that have raised concern from parents, like middle-school children in Tennessee being told to write "Allah is the only God" and recite the Islamic conversion creed. An assignment in a Wisconsin public school told students to "Pretend you are Muslim."
In Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on state curricula standards and how some teaching about various religions was being carried out. From the AJC report: "It is important that students understand the differences between each of these religions to help them understand the tensions that exist in the region," the state standards, known as the Georgia Performance Standards, say. In Walton County, which manifested itself in a homework assignment one parent found objectionable: "Allah is the (fill in the blank) worshiped by Jews & Christians," the document said. The child was supposed to fill in the blank with "same God." Historical Christianity does not teach that the Islamic "Allah" is the same God as Jesus Christ. But it is an example cited on CAIR's website as a fact of Islam that should be taught to students.
The ACLJ says there are reports across the country of "innocent school children being taught to pray Islamic prayers, make prayer rugs, and practice other Islamic rituals."
Meanwhile, the ACLJ reports, Christian students are being told not to bring Bibles to school or to pray.
The goal of the Muslim Voters Summit is to rally one million Muslims to go to the polls this November to defeat Donald Trump. The hope is to turn out voters in areas heavily populated by Muslims, like in Michigan where Trump won by less than 11,000 votes in 2016.
"You're doing what has never been done before. You're registering and turning out more than 1 million Muslim voters this November," Biden said. "It matters."
Biden's senior adviser for Muslim engagement, Farooq Mitha, said earning the votes of Muslim Americans is a priority for Biden, pointing to multiple campaign events aimed at winning over Muslim voters.
"Muslim communities can have an outsized impact in many states and we are working every day to earn their support," Mitha said.
Biden's full address can be viewed at this link.