By Alec Rooney
A Staunton, Va. father who became embroiled in the controversy about a high school teacher’s Islamic-doctrine assignment is striving to deal with the experience as a Christian, and has even found scripture that has helped guide him through the experience.
When Keith Thompson first saw saw the social media post about his daughter’s World History class, one December evening in 2015, he was alarmed.
The post was by the mother of another child in the class. Apparently the roomful of ninth-graders at Riverheads High School in Staunton, Va. had been directed to copy Arabic calligraphy as an in-class assignment. Only it was not just any Arabic calligraphy, but the shahada, the statement of faith that makes one a Muslim: There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.
Thompson said he regrets what he did next: get on social media himself and sound the alarm.
“I made a statement that night that you need to watch out for your kids,” said the Staunton truck driver. “But I felt like I should have held off. I’m not a judge, jury and executioner. I’m a concerned parent.”
Thompson said he first called the school and spoke with principal Max Lowe, whom he called “receptive and pretty concerned,” and made the decision not to send his daughter to school "until we found out what was going on.”
Thompson said he also didn’t completely fault teacher Cheryl LaPorte for handing out the controversial assignment, which LaPorte took from the 1995 textbook World Religions by Gabriel Arquilevich. LaPorte was actually one of his daughter’s favorite teachers, he said, describing how the teacher took his daughter aside after the brouhaha and apologized to her in private.
“Personally, I have not seen any hard evidence that the teacher acted on her own,” he said. “It’s coming from a higher source.”
(The Christian Action Network is currently producing a documentary on the introduction of Islam into U.S. schools via liberal politicians, Muslim activists, the Higher Education Act and money from Saudi Arabia as well as the U.S. taxpayer.)
Riverheads High School has removed the exercise from the curriculum, which counts as a victory of sorts. But the hardest part, Thompson said, has been deciding on how best to respond to the event as a Christian.
There are forces at work that want to make children receptive to Islam, he said, citing Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
“They can’t get to the older ones, so they plant a seed at an early age,” he said. “Plant it now, so that when they’re older they’ll be easier to indoctrinate.”
Many in the community and especially the news media have come to the teacher’s defense, attacking those who complained about the assignment as below their intellectual level. Thompson found a Biblical response in several places. The first was Romans 1:22, about humans who turned from God and whose “foolish hearts were darkened”: Professing to be wise, they became fools.
Another, he said, is Colossians 2:8: Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Finally, Thompson offered 2 Peter 2:1: But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
Asked what he would advise other Christians to do in similar situations, which might well be on the horizon for many communities, Thompson said not to “throw it out on social media right away,” but to “approach people in love … Approach them peacefully.”
“Address the school board. Check your children’s homework on a regular basis. You’re entrusting these teachers to teach your child.”
“I’m not intolerant of other cultures,” he said, making a point that seems to escape many leftists who embrace Islamism without realizing its true goals are very, very different from their own.
“I’m intolerant of them pushing their beliefs. Liberals and radical Islamists have the same agenda. One wants socialistic utopia. Jihadists want a Muslim world, and to wipe out Christianity.”