Friendswood Junior High School Principal Robin Lowe, upon being told that a Muslim student had been harassed and possibly assaulted because of his religion, allowed representatives from a Muslim organization to make a presentation to an assembly of students. After parents bitterly complained, Friendswood Superintendent Trish Hanks reassigned Lowe.
One of these two dedicated administrators made a mistake, but it wasn’t Lowe, who reasonably applied education and sensitivity as antidotes to prejudice and violence.
The presentation, nicknamed “Islam 101,” did not promote religion but tried to better acquaint the students with the beliefs and culture of their Muslim classmates. This should be the stuff of anger and outrage?
Jill Caroll and Carol Quillen of Rice University’s Boniuk Center for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance are experts in their field. In a letter that will appear in Monday’s Letters column, they state that education is exactly the best response to religious harassment: “If anyone still requires evidence of the crying need for teaching children about the world’s religious traditions, this incident — students coming to blows over faith differences — provides it.”
David Bradley, a member of the State Board of Education whose district includes Friendswood, said the assembly on Islam was a waste of money and an inappropriate response to a beating. Perhaps he has a point. Christians who would practice religious intolerance and persecution desperately need a few tutorials in their own religion, as they have forgotten the second pillar of Christian teaching: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”