The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

December 13, 2013

Alabama critics: School texts insult Christians

MONTGOMERY — Alabama's school board postponed a decision on new texts after conservatives complained the books promote Islam and oppose Christianity.

State School Superintendent Tommy Bice asked for the delay during a meeting Thursday following complaints by the Eagle Forum of Alabama and ACT for America.

The Anniston Star reported the groups complained that 12 textbooks proposed for social studies classes have a pro-Muslim slant and are anti-Christian.

Larry Houck, of ACT for America, said the books' passages on Christianity implied doubt about the divinity of Jesus.

"They said 'Jesus walked the earth teaching his ideas,'" Houck said. "That's just an insult."

Most of the disputed texts are for use in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades. All are produced by major publishers.

Bice said the complaints came up late in the textbook process, and he plans to read the texts over the holiday break. He said he hoped the board would have a healthy debate, and that rushing a vote would not help.

"It creates an unintended us-versus-them, and nobody wins in that situation," he said.

School board member Ella Bell said that while she welcomed a debate about textbooks, most of the criticisms she'd heard lacked details. Bell said she is a Christian, but isn't opposed to learning about other religions.

"My religion stands toe-to-toe with any religion, and I am not intimidated, because I have faith," she said.

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