Approximately 50 teachers and officials from Pennsylvania’s recently gathered at a taxpayer-funded workshop during church services at a local Baptist church to learn about the problems Christian children face in today’s secular educational environment.
No, wait. Scratch that. That didn’t happen. That’s totally wrong.
Instead, approximately 50 teachers and staffers in the town of Lebanon, Pa. attended a workshop at a local mosque to learn all about Islam and Arab culture, EAGnews.org reports.
The man leading the workshop was Mohamed Omar, a former Arabic translator for the school district.
Omar, who is now a case worker for Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services, graciously took time off to educate public school staffers about the monotheistic religion articulated by the Quran, a book considered by the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to be the verbatim word of Allah.
“We have so many students from different Hispanic countries, but slowly but, surely, the Arabic population is growing,” Omar told the Lebanon Daily News. “With Hispanics, you have the language differences and certainly cultural differences, but there are similarities in their religious practices. Of course, the Arab language and the religion are very much different, but we are learning that there are also many similarities.”
The first stop for the workshop was Lebanon High School, where Omar took it upon himself to explain his views on the differences between high schools in the United States and high schools in Arab nations — where the illiteracy rate collectively hovers around 20 percent.
Then, it was off to the Lebanon Valley Mosque where teachers and administrators respectfully removed their shoes and socialized with devotees of Islam clad in traditional dress.
There was much talk of Allah.
“We believe we will be judged by God,” Omar instructed the gathered government employees, according to the local newspaper. “The more good deeds we do, God will forgive us in the end.”
“Faith without work will not be accepted,” Omar pontificated.
Intrigued teachers asked questions about several topics. They wondered, for example, how Muslim students would be able to pray five times a day while in school. Omar said Muslim students could skip a prayer but they would have to make sure to pray in a few hours. (RELATED: Maryland High School Allows Muslim Students To Leave Class Every Day To Pray)
After Omar’s question-and-answer session, the public school teachers and officials shared a delicious meal of lamb at the mosque. (RELATED: Tennessee Elementary School Lifts Fatwa Against Pork After Parents Complain)
Hamid Housni, the founder of the Lebanon Valley Mosque, said he appreciated the taxpayer-funded event.
“I think this is the first time ever in the United States that a school district goes to a mosque,” Housni told the Daily News. “Usually a representative of a mosque goes somewhere. We don’t have words to explain to you how we appreciate that. This is very, very special.”
Teachers were also pleased about the workshop.
“It’s important that we educate ourselves about cultures that are different from our own and that we try to eliminate some misunderstandings,” Lara Book, an English-as-a-second-language teacher, told the newspaper.
The publicly-funded workshop on Islam led by a devoted follower of the religion was the second such workshop in Lebanon in as many years.
There don’t appear to have been any similar workshops concerning Christianity or any other religion.
Around the country, the literature and symbolism of Christianity have often not been accorded the same celebratory status as Islam.
Last month, for example, a Nevada public charter school faced the wrath of a local pastor and the prospect of a lawsuit because a teacher refused to allow the man’s sixth-grade daughter to include her Christian beliefs for a project called “All About Me.” (RELATED: Teacher Bans PASTOR’S DAUGHTER From Mentioning God In ‘All About Me’ Assignment)
In January of this year, Hijab Day happened at a taxpayer-funded charter school in the suburbs of Sacramento. All female students — but only female students — were encouraged to wear Muslim headscarves. (RELATED: Taxpayer-Funded School Celebrates Hijab Day)
Last year, public school teachers in both Texas and Missouri either confiscated Bibles or yelled at students for carrying Bibles on school premises. (RELATED: This Month In Public School Teachers Confiscating Bibles And Yelling At Students About Bibles)
In 2013, the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation — which is thus far strangely absent from the Lebanon School District fracas — bullied a New Hampshire school district into forbidding the Christian mother of two high school students from praying on the front steps of her kids’ high school each morning. (RELATED: Atheist Group Bullies High School Into Banning Mom From Praying For Kids’ Safety)
In September 2014, the same group bullied a Florida school district into banning team chaplains, signs with Bible verses and praying before football games. (RELATED: Atheist Group Gets Religious Expression Banned From HS Football Games)
In 2013, a public high school in a Buffalo, N.Y. suburb filed a lawsuit claiming that school district officials threatened to fire her unless she removed several objects referencing Christianity — including a quote by Ronald Reagan — from her classroom. (RELATED: Teacher Claims School District Forced Her To Purge Classroom Of Bible Verses)