Court Rules that School Lesson on Islam Didn’t Violate Student Rights

November 19, 2005

Source: Tri-Valley Herald/The Sacramento Bee

On November 19, 2005 the The Sacramento Bee reported, "Christian students and parents cannot sue a school district where some seventh-graders pretended to be Muslims for three weeks during a course in world history, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday... Thursday's decision came down in an unpublished memorandum, indicating the judges considered it routine. They reviewed the method used by one teacher in Byron, Contra Costa County, four years ago to teach the unit on Muslim history, culture and religion that is part of the state's seventh-grade history curriculum. Brooke Carlin encouraged her students to play at being Muslims — adopt Muslim names, recite a line from a prayer and give up candy or television to simulate fasting, for example. Students were permitted to opt out. On the final exam they were asked to critique elements of Muslim culture. Jonas and Tiffany Eklund sued, along with their children. San Francisco U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton dismissed the suit two years ago, saying Carlin was merely teaching and not indoctrinating. Hamilton found that the students did not engage in actual religious exercises. The 9th Circuit upheld her decision in a five-sentence ruling, saying only that the activities weren't 'overt religious exercises' that would raise concerns under the First Amendment prohibition of 'establishment of religion.'"