Some Texas social studies textbooks have a blatant pro-Islamic and anti-Christian bias, several members of the state's Board of Education are charging.
According to a resolution presented before the board, the textbooks devoted more space to discussing Islam than Christianity, whitewashed instances of Muslim-led massacres while playing up ones led by Christians, and generally portray Islam in a more positive light than other faiths.
The books gave “[s]anitized definitions of 'jihad' that exclude religious intolerance or military aggression against non-Muslims,” the complaint alleged.
The resolution also claimed that textbooks ignore Muslim massacres and holy wars, while focusing on the mass murders of Jews by Christian Crusaders. In addition, the textbook critics say that medieval Christianity was portrayed as sexist three times, and the Church is charged with “[laying] the foundations for anti-Semitism.”
“[F]alse editorial stereotypes” are prevalent in the study materials, the resolution maintains. In one example, a textbook allegedly contrasts “the Muslim concern for cleanliness” with Swedes in Russia who were described as “the filthiest of God's creatures.”
Of three textbooks that were analyzed, one devoted 248 lines to discussing the religious practices and history of Islam, but only 120 lines to Christianity; another gave 159 lines to Islam and 82 to Christianity; and the third allotted 176 lines to Islam and 139 to Christianity, according to the analysis.
The resolution was proposed by Randy Reves, a West Texas businessman, and is based on his own analysis of textbooks that were previously used in the state's school system.
“In the social studies books we need to make sure that our democratic values are depicted and that's not just my opinion that's what the Texas education code says,” Reves told the Media Research Center on Sept. 16.
“[Social studies is] not a religious class so we don't need them trying to influence our young people through our social studies books,” said Reves. “If they want to offer a course on Islamic religion and people take that course, that's one thing.”
According to Reves, the Dubai royal family recently purchased a 49 percent share of the textbook publishing giant Education Media Publishing Group (EMPG). He said this may be influencing the editorial direction of the books.
“As more and more Islamic companies buy up our textbooks…then we're going to be at a greater risk of this happening,” said Reves. “What I'm asking the state board to do is say that we're on watch for this.”
The resolution, which asks Texas Board of Education members to scrutinize textbooks for religious bias, will be heard on Sept. 24. If it passes, Reves hopes that it will prompt board members to “start to look for these indiscretions that happened in the past, and keep them from happening in the future.”
The Texas textbook controversy harkens back to a similar dispute in New York City this summer, when teachers complained that the state Regents exam had a similar pro-Islam bias.
The test's passages on Islam gave a falsely glowing portrayal the religion, said critics.
For example, one segment said that, “Wherever they went, the Moslems brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western Christendom.”
In contrast, reading material about Christianity in the exam focused on the religion's intolerance, teachers complained.
“Christian buildings often constructed on sites of destroyed native temples in order to symbolize and emphasize the substitution of one religion by the other,” read a segment.
“There should have been a little balance in there,” a Brooklyn administrator who declined to be named told the New York Post. “To me, this was offensive because it's just so inappropriate and the timing of it was piss-poor.”
St. Lawrence University religious studies professor Mark MacWilliams also questioned the exam's presentation of the two religions during an interview with the New York Post.
“Why does the exam seem to have only documents that portray Islam as a religion of peace, civilization and refinement, while it includes documents about Christianity that show it was anything but peaceful in the Spanish conquest of the Americas?” MacWilliams asked.