Friday, September 17, 2010

Public School Trip to Mosque, Students Pray

Massachusetts middle school kids' "authentic experience" field trip to mosque included lecture on Prophet Muhammad

[Parents speaking out today] were united in their support for the school's program of religious education, which they say promotes tolerance and understanding.

"The mosque visit was innocent. Five minutes of prayer won't make any kids change their religion."

UPDATE 9/22/10: Mother's lawyer says school clearly violated students' civil rights

UPDATE 10/11/10: Muslim Holiday Celebrated at Massachusetts Schools

-- From "Wellesley superintendent apologizes for letting students on field trip pray at Islamic mosque" by Teddy Applebaum, Wellesley Townsman; and Scott O'Connell, MetroWest Daily News 9/16/10

Wellesley’s superintendent of schools apologized today after Wellesley Middle School students were allowed to pray at an Islamic mosque during a May field trip.

"It was not the intent for students to be able to participate in any of the religious practices,” Superintendent Bella Wong wrote in a letter being sent to parents later today. “I extend my sincere apologies for the error that occurred and regret the offense it may have caused.”

Wong said the field trip to the Roxbury-based Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center — which faced opposition during its construction — was part of a social studies course called “Enduring Beliefs and the World Today,” that includes introductions to a number of religions. During the course students visit a mosque, synagogue, attend a gospel performance, and meet with Hindus.

The trip gained wider attention after the Boston-based group Americans for Peace and Tolerance released a video on Sept. 16 showing five middle school students praying during the trip. A parent who chaperoned the field trip allegedly shot the footage of the trip included in the video.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Wellesley parents seem to support students' mosque trip" By Sarah Thomas, Town Correspondent posted at The Boston Globe 9/17/10

"I believe the program is valid," said parent Ute Smith. "My daughter went on the trip last year and she enjoyed being exposed to the different culture. I think it was valuable."

"I didn't have a problem with the school's decision," said parent Jenny Rademacher.

One parent, who asked not to be identified, called the controversy 'ridiculous.'

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "School Apologizes After Students Pray to Allah on Field Trip to Mosque" by Todd Starnes, 9/17/10

Parents were told [in advance] their children would be learning about the architecture of a mosque and they would be allowed to observe a prayer service. But the students wound up being given a lecture on the Prophet Muhammad, and some boys participated in a midday prayer service.

The field trip was videotaped by a parent whose child was on the trip. At one point, the video shows a spokeswoman for the mosque telling students, “You have to believe in Allah, and Allah is the one God, the only one worthy of worship, all forgiving, all merciful."

The sixth graders were also reportedly told that jihad is a personal spiritual struggle that has nothing to do with holy war, and girls on the field trip were told that Islam is pro-women.

“Islam was actually very advanced in terms of recognizing women’s rights,” an unidentified mosque spokeswoman says in the video. “At the time of the Prophet Muhammad, women were allowed to express their opinions and vote. In this country, women didn’t gain that right until less than a hundred years ago.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.