Report: Public School Textbooks Whitewashing Islam

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WASHINGTON -- Through the years, American public schools have taught students that Nazism, communism, and other totalitarian ideologies should be opposed.

But when it comes to the current war with Islamic jihadists, public schools are taking a much different course.

According to a new report, students are getting a white-washed version of what our enemies believe, and it could have dangerous implications for America's future.

Sugar-coating Islam

For students in America's middle and high schools, 9/11 is a distant memory. Some were still toddlers when the World Trade Center towers fell.

But if they're looking for answers in their history textbooks about who attacked the United States and why, they may be disappointed.

One 2003 world geography textbook widely used in public schools gives the following explanation for the 9/11 attacks:

"On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four passenger planes, crashing two of them into New York City's World Trade Center and the third into the Pentagon. The devastation and loss of so many lives made the United States firmly resolved to rid the world of terrorism."

Guy Rodgers, a former public school teacher who is now executive director of ACT! for America Education, noted that while the text mentions terrorism or a terrorist attack, it never mentions Islam or that the attackers were Muslim.

"The closest they'll get to it is they'll mention al Qaeda," Rodgers told CBN News. "But they don't typically define what al Qaeda is or describe it."

Education or Indoctrination?

ACT! for America Education recently studied 38 textbooks widely used in 6th through 12th grade classrooms nationwide to teach about Islam. They published their findings in a new report called "Education or Indoctrination?"

According to the report, the books contained a sanitized version of some of the most radical aspects of Islam, including the oppressive system known as Sharia law.

"Virtually every school district in America is using one or more of these textbooks-and probably a lot of private schools, too," Rodgers told CBN News.

One textbook, World History: Patterns of Interaction, reads that Sharia "requires Muslim leaders to extend religious tolerance to Christians and Jews."

Yet another text taught that Muslims were "extremely tolerant of those they conquered" and "allowed Christians and Jews to keep their churches and synagogues and promised them security."

Rodgers says such teachings are factually and historically incorrect.

"There's nothing in Sharia law that requires Muslim leaders to extend tolerance to Christians and Jews," Rodgers said.

"And this idea that there was full religious freedom granted? Well, let me refer to one Muslim historian - he estimated that some 30,000 Christian churches were destroyed during the first two centuries of jihad after (the Islamic prophet) Mohammed died," he added.

Islam and Women

Then there's the treatment of women. One frequently used book stated that the Koran "granted women Koran spiritual and social equality with men" and gave them the right to own and inherit property - a claim Rodgers disputes.

"In the Muslim world, do women enjoy anything approaching what we would call social equality with men? Even in the more moderate Muslim countries, that's not the case," Rodgers said.

Most of the books researched for the study were written after 9/11, when accurate information about Islam has never been more crucial for the next generation of American leaders.

Yet Rodgers told CBN News that what American students are learning about jihad -- or holy war - in their most formative years is anything but accurate.

He cited a passage from one textbook that calls Jihad "an Islamic term that is often misunderstood," explaining that it means "to struggle" and "to do one's best to resist temptation and overcome evil" --acting only in self-defense.

"Islamic armies developed an empire from the Atlantic Ocean on the West all the way to India on the East. They didn't do it through handing out tracts," Rodgers.

ACT! for America Education has mailed the textbooks report to over 70,000 state and local school board members nationwide. Rodgers said it's not only a matter of education but of national security.

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.