Wichita newspaper defends school display of the five pillars of Islam

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WICHITA, Kansas – The editors of the Wichita Eagle are troubled by the uproar caused over an elementary school bulletin board decorated to illustrate for students “the five pillars of Islam.”

five-pillars-of-islamSomeone snapped a photo of the bulletin board and posted it online, where it caused a great deal of consternation from people who disapprove.

An editorial from the newspaper said, “the truth is that, in context, the bulletin board fit perfectly into the cultural knowledge curriculum’s study of the five great religions of the world – Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. The point was not to promote religion but to serve fourth-grade social studies this fall.”

The editorial described the reaction to the display as “chilling and sad.”

This issue is hardly that simple, as the Eagle editors must privately know.

It’s obviously good for students to learn about the most popular religions of the world, their fundamental beliefs and values, and their impact on human culture.  But judging from the photo alone, the bulletin board in the Wichita classroom has the appearance of a promotional ad.

We believe most Americans are tolerant of minority groups and their religious freedoms, but they aren’t willing to pay tax dollars to have a controversial religion pushed on their children.

There may be more to this story than we know. Perhaps other bulletin boards on other walls of the classroom had similarly enticing displays for Christianity and the other religions. Or perhaps those displays are scheduled to go up in the same spot later, or already had their turn.

That would certainly make the Islam display more appropriate and understandable.

The editors should be more sensitive to the millions of Americans who remain upset about the events of 9/11/2001 and other terrorist acts perpetrated by fundamentalist Muslim groups. While there are millions of peaceful, moderate Muslims in our nation, and they’ve certainly experienced unfair discrimination, there are also fundamentalists in our midst that support the people who want to harm our nation.

In short, the Muslim faith has a shaky reputation in the U.S. at the moment, and it’s easy to understand why.

Besides, as the liberals always remind us, the promotion of religion is not the role of government schools. As one blogger asked, where is the ACLU on this issue? If there were (or is going to be) a bulletin board displaying the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, you can bet the liberal lawyers would be up in arms.

Frankly, we’re stunned that school administrators and Eagle editors were surprised by the uproar provoked by the bulletin board. These people live and work in America’s heartland, not some remote cave. They know most Americans are fair-minded people, but they also realize we’re struggling to understand and accept a religion that has so many followers who hate us so much.

The school and the Eagle editorial board deserve an “F” when it comes to sensitivity toward their countrymen.

By Steve Gunn at EAGnews.org

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