By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog
OSAWATOMIE — A display outlining the five pillars of Islam has been removed by Wichita school officials after some parents took issue with the visual following the first day of class at Minneha Core Knowledge magnet school last week.
Susan Arensman, marketing and communications director for Wichita Public Schools, acknowledged that Minneha had created a visual display of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, but said it was part of a curriculum the magnet school has utilized for years. Students study Islam, as well as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism in the historical and geographical context of understanding the development of civilizations.
“The bulletin board that originally caused the concern does represent the five pillars of Islam – in a historical context of their studies,” Arensman said. “There is also a painting of the Last Supper hanging in the school as part of the study of art and the Renaissance period.”
But what’s lacking, some argue, is full disclosure.
A concerned parent, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal against herself or her child, said if students are going to be taught about Islam, they should also be made aware of what she views as violent ideology.
“If you’re not going to include all the facts, then there’s now a bias,” said the parent, who is Jewish.
Arensman said that’s not what the district is aiming for.
“The purpose is not to explore the matters of theology, but to understand the place of religion and religious ideas in history,” Arensman said. “The Core Knowledge goal is to familiarize, not proselytize; to be descriptive, not prescriptive.”
State Rep. Dennis Hedke, R-Wichita, said he was “appalled” when he first heard of the display. He said the way the school teaches about Islam glosses over some of the more unsavory aspects of the religion, such as Jihad and the annihilation of Israel.
“If you’re going to talk about Islam and make it sound like it’s another one of those religions that needs to be understood and contemplated by mankind, there’s a serious misunderstanding,” Hedke said.
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