In the last year, the Freedom from Religion Foundation has pitched a fit about a preschool graduation ceremony begun with a Christian prayer, about a portrait of Jesus Christ hanging at a middle school and about a mother praying on the front steps of her kids’ high school.
Oddly enough, the Madison, Wisconsin-based outfit was apparently nowhere to be found to lead the charge against a bulletin board at a Wichita, Kansas elementary school illustrating the Five Pillars of Islam.
However, reports The Wichita Eagle, some parents who have their own concerns about religion in schools complained about the display in a hallway outside fourth-grade classrooms. It has now been removed.
The bulletin board at Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary included five columns made out of white construction paper. It also featured the words “The Five Pillars of Islam.” School officials said the point of the display was to help students in their study of the religions of the world.
Controversy concerning the bulletin board began brewing on the first day of school, last Wednesday. Things escalated rapidly. An unidentified person snapped a photo of the display and put it on a Facebook page called “Prepare to Take America Back.” The image then went viral, and has been shared over 3,500 times.
“Students at Minneha Core Knowledge Elementary School in Wichata (sic) Kansas Were met with this their first day of school. This is a school that banned all forms of Christian prayer,” the caption under the photo declares. “This can not stand.”
There are many Facebook pages called “Prepare to Take America Back” in one form or another. The pages say the group is “about We the People restoring and maintaining our Constitutional Rights.” The pages tend to be specific to state (e.g., Prepare to Take America Back — Kansas). Some also contain the word “militia” in the title. Most of the pages are closed groups.
The Wichita Public Schools issued a statement earlier this week by in response to the kerfuffle.
“Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet students cover the five major religions of the world — Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam — as part of their Core Knowledge magnet curriculum,” the statement said, according to The Eagle.
“The bulletin board that originally caused the concern does represent the Five Pillars of Islam—in a historical context of their studies. There is also a painting of the Last Supper hanging in the school as part of the study of art and the Renaissance period.”
The statement asserted that a photo “of a bulletin board without context is misleading, and some have taken it out of context without having all the information.”
School district spokeswoman Susan Arensman told The Eagle that learning about the Five Pillars of Islam is part of Minneha’s fourth-grade history and geography curriculum.
Arensman also noted that Christian prayer is not banned at Wichita public schools.