Tennessee is the most recent state to have a moral panic over the teaching of Islam in public schools. Parents, lawmakers and Christian leaders have raised enough of a stir about the curriculum this month to lead the state to review its curriculum.
The controversy began in towns like Franklin, Tenn., with TV station WSMV reporting that parents objected to the seventh grade curriculum spending three weeks learning about Islam in social studies classes. WSMV quotes parent Laura Jones as distressed about her children suffering from deity confusion.
"They are asking me, 'Why are there two gods? Are there more than two gods? I thought there was only one God,'" Jones said to WSMV.
The situation escalated from there, to a local pastor saying students should take an F in the class, to members of the state Legislature and Congress calling for the curriculum to be changed, which is what led the state Department of Education to begin an early social studies curriculum review.
Much of the criticism by parents and Christian leaders traces back to students' learning the Five Pillars of Islam, which are the religion's central tenets. The first pillar is the declaration of faith. The declaration can be translated into English a variety of ways, but USA Today cites students as having to write "Allah is the only God" as part of their classwork.