This report claims:


Now, parents of public-school students in Tennessee are protesting assignments that include writing a declaration that Allah is supreme and textbooks that recount Islamic doctrines as facts instead of beliefs.

Nearly 120,000 people have signed ACLJ’s petition demanding a halt to such teaching.

“What if your child or grandchild’s public school forced them to write out the Shahada – the Islamic conversion creed – while having skipped Christianity?” the organization asked.

Is it true?

Did the assignments include "writing a declaration that Allah is supreme and textbooks that recount Islamic doctrines as facts"?

  • 2
    Related question on Islam.SE (triggered by a separate incident): islam.stackexchange.com/questions/29148/…
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 12:09
  • 3
    Do not attempt to answer the question here, nor debate which answer is the correct one. The community can vote for the best one, the OP can choose an accepted answer. Each one can do so and should feel free to do it without pressure. Even if it's the wrong answer.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 11:46

2 Answers 2


A quick google check for "tennessee schools allah is the only god" yields a link to snopes.com which does a pretty good job at laying out why this claim is false:

This isn't the first time a similar claim has been made, and likely won't be the last:

Middle school parents in Tennessee are up in arms upon learning that their children were being forced to recite and write the Islamic Shahada conversion creed: “Allah is the only god and Muhammad is his prophet,” as part of an alleged ‘world history’ project.

That short item was accompanied by a misleading photograph that was taken neither recently nor in Tennessee, showing children kneeling at a mosque in the posture assumed by Muslims during prayer. That picture seems to have first appeared online in 2011, shared by anti-Muslim web sites in Europe that claimed it was taken in either England or Denmark.

At best, the claim misinterprets something much more straightforward; at worst, it deliberately misrepresents it:

Public schools in the United States typically teach major world religions as an element of history or social studies classes, and when students reach the point in the curriculum in which they learn about the Islamic faith, those lessons occasionally trigger claims by some parents that their children are being indoctrinated into Islam and "forced to say Muslim prayers."

The Tennessee department of education categorically denies this is taking place.

Sara Gast, spokeswoman Tennessee's state Department of Education, told us that none of the state's public school students are being forced to pray or adhere to any religion:

No Tennessee student is being forced to pray to any god. Earlier this year (2016, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill to require that any inclusion of religion in textbooks, instructional materials, curriculum, or academic standards be for educational purposes only and not be used to proselytize or establish any religion or religious belief. Additionally, each district is required to adopt a policy regarding the appropriate inclusion of religion in local curriculum and instructional materials.

Tennessee has long had academic standards for social studies that include world history being taught at various points over the course of a student's K-12 schooling: grade 6, grade 7, and high school. Major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Islam, and Shinto, are covered throughout those courses. The intent of the standards is to help students develop a larger context around world religions and world cultures and see how those impact world history.

Another earlier snopes article rates the base claim as true, even though the details directly refute the implied claims of conversion or indoctrination:

While the original story reported by Spring Hill Home Page is accurate, many of the details were lost as the article was aggregated by various outlets. For instance, one persistent claim is that Spring Hill Middle School gave lessons about Islam for three weeks while neglecting all other religions including Christianity.

Dr. Jan Hanvey, Maury County Public Schools middle school supervisor, told the Columbia Daily Herald that while students spend about three weeks learning about the geography and culture of the middle east, they only spend about one day talking about Islam. Furthermore, Hanvey said that the Chritianity was not "skipped," as some publications have suggested, rather that it was moved to a later date.

  • 2
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 15:30
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    This answer could be improved by recognizing that the 2016 Tennessee bill "inclusion of religion in textbooks, instructional materials, curriculum, or academic standards be for educational purposes only and not be used to proselytize or establish any religion or religious belief" was passed in response to the 2015 events of the OP. Instead, this answer is using the text of the bill to deny the very events that motivated the bill.
    – DavePhD
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 15:55
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    The first Snopes article listed was regarding a completely different claim (which was indeed false.) DavePhD's answer has the correct information. This one should be removed.
    – reirab
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 19:27

Students in public school were assigned to write in Arabic the Shahada (Testimony of Faith), not in Tennessee, but in neighboring Virginia.

In English, it is:

I bear witness that there is no God except Allah; And I bear witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His servant and messenger

This occurred in 9th grade World Geography class at Riverheads High School, Augusta County, Virginia, December 11th, 2015.

See for example the Washington Post article Schoolwork about Islam triggers backlash in Virginia county and Parents in Augusta County Concerned About Islamic Indoctrination

enter image description here

The above assignment was taken by the teacher, Cheryl LaPorte, from page 122 of the book World Religions by Gabriel Arquilevich.

Laurel Truxell and others were pressured to pose in Hijab for the yearbook by the same teacher (Cheryl LaPorte):

the teacher pushed and pushed and pushed so I did it, and when she took a picture, I asked for it not to be in the yearbook and she said it was, so that's when my parents called the school

As far as the Tennessee situation, we do not have a written copy of a particular assignment; however, the corresponding state standard required that students:

7.6 Explain the significance of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the primary sources of Islamic beliefs, practice, and law and their influence in Muslims’ daily life.

What happened is explained in Maury parents angered over Islam unit. 7th graders at Spring Hill Middle School, Maury County, were required to learn the 5 pillars of Islam. This involved classwork and assignments that necessitated writing and verbally stating the Shahada in English.

students were instructed to write, “Allah is the only God,” said parent Brandee Porterfield.... the teacher verbally asked students about the five pillars, “And the students were reciting the Shahada.”


My child was required to write ‘Allah is the only God’, parent Joy Ellis said

However, after a meeting:

Principal Shanda Sparrow said students would not have to write the Shahada again.

Director of Schools Dr. Marczak released a written statement acknowledging that:

For this last section on the Islamic World this past week, our educators had students complete an assignment that had an emphasis on Islamic Faith. The assignment covered some sensitive topics that are of importance to Islamic religion and caused some confusion around whether we are asking students to believe in or simply understand the religion.

The state of Tennessee has recently (September 2016) revised its standard for 7th grade as explained in Islam removed from draft Tenn. 7th grade social studies standards:

gone is a standard about understanding the Qur’an and Sunnah

  • 1
    Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 18:14
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    Deleted comments delving into pedantry about the definitions of writing and county lines. See the above chat room.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 1:06
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    Deleted comments delving into the pedantry of the best English translation. Please take further discussion to this chat room.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 15:28
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    Please move further bikeshedding to chat. Consider this an official warning.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 18:26

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