Group accuses Roane County Schools of indoctrinating students with Islam

School officials say all of the Roane County Tea Party's claims are untrue.

KINGSTON (WATE) – “God’s out and Allah’s in” in Roane County Schools, according to the county’s Tea Party. The group also claims middle school students have to recite an Islamic prayer and learn that “Allah is the same god as the god in the Hebrew Bible.” While Roane County Schools said those claims aren’t true, members of the group believe the district’s students are being indoctrinated through seventh grade Social Studies.

“There is an agenda of elevation and eradication,” said Lucinda Shath. She believes Islam is being elevated while other religions, like Christianity, are being eradicated.

WATE 6 On Your Side looked through the textbook Roane County uses for seventh grade social studies. One of the first curriculum standards is that students are able to compare and contrast the tenets of five major religions: Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism.

WATE 6 On Your Side looked through the textbook Roane County uses for seventh grade social studies. One of the first curriculum standards is that students are able to compare and contrast the tenets of five major religions.
One of the first curriculum standards in the book Roane County uses is that students are able to compare and contrast the tenets of five major religions.

But that textbook, published by Holt, isn’t the book the Tea Party group has a problem with. They’re upset about one published by Pearson, which the district said is not in the classroom.

“There may not be a textbook in the classroom and there’s probably not,” said Shath, “but there’s probably digital downloads on tablet.”

Shath believes the Pearson book has been downloaded onto tablets by Roane County Schools and is being used in the classroom.

“That is absolutely not true,” said Director of Schools Gary Aytes, who added the district wouldn’t even be able to afford it.

Aytes said that all of the Tea Party’s claims are untrue.

“In no way do we influence students in any way toward any religion,” said Aytes. “In Social Studies there is a history of the settlement of the Arabian peninsula and how that affected the history of the world, just as there is a section on the Buddhists, Judaism, Christianity and other world religions and how it affected history.”

The Tea Party is upset about a textbook published by Pearson, which the district said is not in the classroom.
The Tea Party is upset about a textbook published by Pearson, which the district said is not in the classroom.

Shath and Roane County Tea Party co-chairpersons said they’re fine with all of those religions being taught, but they aren’t fine with the way they think they are being taught.

“Over and over again they cover the Islamic world which is wonderful,” said Shath. “However, they tell half truths about Islam spreading peacefully.”

“If they’re going to teach about Islam, I’d like to see them speak the truth instead of a white-washed version of a peaceful religion and co-existing with our U.S. Constitution and the Christian philosophy,” said Johnston. “It will not, it does not exist. That is a complete lie.”

Aytes said when it comes to world religion, nothing has changed.

Director of Schools Gary Aytes
Director of Schools Gary Aytes

“It’s just about all religion and the effects that religion had on the development of the history of the world,” he said. “It’s what we’ve always done. I’ve been here 41 years, it hasn’t changed. It’s the same as when I was in school.”

The Roane County Tea Party will have a presentation on this topic Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Kingston Community Center.

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