Attempting to halt the use of textbooks that teach Islamic history and religion in public schools is a strategy of the anti-Muslim movement that foments fear and animosity toward Muslims. The two groups leading the charge against America’s educational system are the grassroots organizations ACT! for America and Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum. The groups regularly collaborate to organize campaigns against state school boards targeting textbooks they assert are misleading about Islam.
In their most recent endeavor, ACT! and Eagle Forum attempted to block Alabama’s Board of Education from approving 11 new social studies books, claiming they “proselytized for Islam,” and were biased against Christianity and other religions. Although the groups played an instrumental role in delaying the approval of the textbooks, the Alabama school board voted to approve them earlier this month after finding no evidence they favored Islam over other religions.
However, ACT! and Eagle Forum have vowed to remain vigilant. Larry Houck, founder of the ACT! for America Birmingham chapter told AL.com he would continue the fight to ban the textbooks approved by the Alabama school board. “We’re going to keep at it,” he stated. “To the best of our ability, we likely will go to the individual school boards and districts.” Houck went on to claim that this was the act of “civilizational (sic) jihad against America” and that students were getting a “false representation” of the religion of Islam.
In addition to seeking to enact anti-Muslim legislation and provide training for law enforcement agencies, ACT! focuses heavily on combating what it calls the threat of pro-Islamic bias in public schools. The group lists all the textbooks it deems biased online.
Eagle Forum has also turned its attention to taking on schools using textbooks they claim favor Islam over Christianity and has designated a committee to examine such books. Both ACT! and Eagle Forum have played pivotal roles in leading textbook battles in states like Tennessee and Florida.
It appears Texas may be the next state the groups have their sights on. In a recent op-ed, an ACT! for America Texas chapter leader outlined his plans to form a new group of volunteers entitled “Truth in Texas Textbooks,” that would examine proposed textbooks for favorable depictions of Islam. He explained that Texas begins its process of reviewing social studies textbooks for the 2015-16 school year in early 2014. Thus, he plans to form a coalition of volunteers to examine the proposed books for any signs of favoritism towards Islam and to ensure they are not “tainted” with political correctness.
The efforts of ACT! and Eagle Forum aim to stifle students’ exposure to cultures outside of their own and encourages fear and division among communities. Their rhetoric should not influence public school curriculum.