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Published with permission and as part of the topic. You must obtain permission from Tracy Hamilton to repost this article ~ Jen Shroder

Coastal Crusade
by Tracy Hamilton

Morro Bay mom claims book used in son’s middle school class promotes Islam at the expense of Christianity

A Morro Bay woman has filed a complaint against San Luis Coastal Unified School District over her son’s seventh-grade social studies textbook, claiming that the book promotes Islam and denigrates Christianity.

Her claim has been echoed by Christian radio, which picked up a story that students in Byron, Calif., who are using the same book, are being forced to “learn the tenants of Islam, study the important figures of the faith, wear a robe, adopt a Muslim name and stage their own jihad,” according to the Reverend Austin Miles of ASSIST News Service.

Students at (our local school) have not been asked to don robes, according to JenT, the mother who filed the complaint, but they are asked to imagine being a Muslim soldier, build a model mosque and describe being on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

“This is nothing short of brainwashing,” Shroder states in a 10-page complaint on her website. “first our children are shown a false god, shown how Muslims worship him, told to imagine being a Muslim, write about it in many ways, and then to write what’s good about it. All the time claiming this does not proselytize!?!

Fox News pundits Hannity & Colmes picked up the Byron story: Fox News reporter William La Jeunesse interviewed Shroder at her Morro Bay home on Jan. 16.

The book, Across the Centuries, was approved statewide for use in seventh-grade social studies classes in 1999. Earlier editions of the book previously were adopted by the state.

Byron district officials have denied that they are forcing students to pray to Allah. After receiving a flood of phone calls after the story was broadcast over radio – calls which officials say came from out of the area and not from parents – the district issued a press release.

“In response to the public’s outcry for accountability,” it reads, “California has adopted a set of content standards for public schools. In grade seven, one of the 11 world history and geography standards is “Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious and social structures of the civilizations of Islam in the Middle Ages.”

In order to engage student interest, officials say, the teacher curriculum outlines various activities and games to illustrate aspects of these social structures. “Dressing up in costume, role-playing and simulation games are all used to stimulate class discussion.”


The book first came to Shroder’s attention when her son brought home an assignment to create his version of a Hindu Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is “taboo” to Christians, says Shroder, and should not be re-created.

In response to the assignment, her son painted an angel with a flaming sword guarding the Tree of Life. At the bottom, he copied a Bible verse: “God placed a mighty angel with a flaming sword to guard the Tree of Life.” His teacher gave the boy an “A,” and posted the picture on the bulletin board. “she’s a hero,” says Shroder. “I brought her flowers yesterday.”

Shroder isn’t opposed to her sons learning about other religions, but the Tree of Life incident “crossed the line between learning about another religion and participating in that religion,” she says. “My God says he is a jealous God.” Shroder goes on to quote what she calls an important verse in the Bible, one she says she uses often: “Take heed that you are not snared and that you inquire not after their gods.”

After the Tree of Life assignment, Shroder got curious. She went through the book, pulling out passages and assignments, eventually collecting 10 pages of offensive material that she says either promotes Islam, whitewashes it or denigrates Christianity. The section that talks about religious persecution, for example, mentions only Christian persecution of other religions, and no persecution of Christians by other religions.

At first, Shroder’s attempt to alert the national media and Christian groups met with little success. “They [major media] just want to hear a Christian rant and rave. But when they found out I was suing the government, they lost interest,” she says. Finally, an attorney from the Pacific Justice Institute agreed to help her.

Pacific Justice Institute attorney Brad Dacus says his organization “defends parents’ rights and religious freedoms.” He says he helped Shroder file a complaint against the district first, not sue the state Department of Education. Further action will depend on the district’s response, he says.

“Our goal is not to stamp out instruction of religion, but we don’t want the state to endorse any religion, either,” Dacus says. He also has gone through the offending books (both the student text and the teacher’s edition) and sees the anti-Christian bias and the whitewash of Islam. He says his yardstick is to flip allthings around – if students were asked to dress like Christian pilgrims and recite passages of the Bible, would it fly? No way, he says. “there’d probably be a lawsuit by the ACLU.”


The San Luis Coastal Unified School District made allowances for Shroder’s son, according to Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Ed Valentine. He says accommodations are routinely made, when they can be, for students and parents who have concerns with particular aspects of the curriculum.

According to Valentine, he has responded to the complaint that was filed, but has gotten no response yet. “It just went out this week,” he says. No other parent has complained to him about the book, which he says has been in use for years.

Published by Houghton Mifflin, Across the Centuries has been in the schools for several years. It was first published in 1991, and approved for the then-new state curriculum. The latest edition was published in 1999. According to Dr. Gary B. Nash, director of the National Center for History in the Schools and one of the book’s authors, the religious sections of the text went through an extensive public review period, after being vetted by “some of the most eminent religious scholars across the country.” UCLA professor of history Nash says the main objections at the time came from Muslims.

“Hundreds of hours were spent sifting through the material,” Nash says. “Houghton Mifflin is an old, honorable publishing company. They take complaints seriously.” He says subsequent editions have reflected changes made when factual or historical inaccuracies were found. Many of Shroder’s complaints, he says, seem to stem from her belief system, not from factual inaccuracies in the book.

“This book is used in virtually every district in California,” says Nash. “It’s used on other states, even in faith-based schools.”

With increased national media interest, it seems unlikely that the tempest will end with Valentine’s response. Dacus says that since his organization issued a press release about the complaint, other parents in districts around the state have called looking for help filing a complaint against Across the Centuries.

Shroder is pleased that the message is getting out. She says she wonders how many parents have no idea what their seventh-graders are learning. “Parents need to ask their kids what they’re being asked to do.”


Staff writer Tracy Hamilton is glad she can read – and that she is beyond being corrupted by words or images. (I thought that was hilarious! lol)

(some of the sentences have been deleted from the original text because it made it sound like I did all this stuff and I didn't, can't take the glory)

Read the outrageous Court ruling by Judge Phyllis Hamilton [a Clinton appointee] authorizing public schools to REQUIRE students to get on their hands and knees and pray to Allah by memory along with any other practices of faith  "in demonstration." This ruling was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court refused to hear it, thus allowing it as setting precedent, a tool used to uphold the decision in other states.

In my opinion, this reduces our children to slaves, for only slaves are reduced to "not believe" as they are forced to take the position and pray to foreign gods. - Jen Shroder 11/27/2010

( Don't miss "Corruption in our children's textbooks."

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