U.S. District Court Judge Kevin McNulty denied a motion to dismiss an Establishment Clause claim brought by Libby Hilsenrath against the Chatham, New Jersey, public school district and various district employees. In denying the district’s motion to dismiss, Judge McNulty found that their motion was worth only “minimal discussion.” 

The federal lawsuit filed by Thomas More Legal Center (TMLC) on behalf of Mrs. Hilsenrath and her son. They had claimed that seventh-grade students at the Chatham Middle School were forced to watch videos in their World Cultures and Geography class that seek to convert viewers to Islam. Here is a sampling of what the students learned by watching just one of the 5-minute videos:

  • God gave Muhammed the noble Koran
  • The Koran is a Perfect guide for Humanity
  • The Koran is divine revelation
  • Islam is a shining beacon against the darkness of repression, segregation, intolerance and racism​
  • The Beautiful Quran is Guidance for the wise & sensible

The video ends with a call for the students to convert to Islam: “May God help us all to find the true faith, Islam.”

Attorney Kate Oliveri, who argued the case for TMLC, said in statement, “This ruling comes as no surprise. The motion to dismiss was a further attempt by the school district to bully and silence Mrs. Hilsenrath. The school district ignored the legal standard and ignored the facts, attempting instead to fool the judge with a poor attempt at sophistry.”

In the video, a musical version of an Arabic poem plays in the background. The poem describes Jews and Christians as infidels while praising Muhammed in gruesome detail for slaughtering them. For example, the poem declares, “their white shining swords red with the blood of infidels
. . . until they looked like meat on the butcher’s block.”

Hilsenrath was subjected to a barrage of vicious personal attacks after she tried to persuade the school district to remove the videos and stop the Islamic indoctrination of her son and other seventh-grade students at the Chatham Middle School. 

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of TMLC, noted, “Witless school officials have converted classrooms across America into Islamic indoctrination centers. These schools do not educate, they propagandize. Under the guise of teaching social studies courses, teachers promote the religion of Islam in ways that would never be legally allowable for Christianity or any other religion. Because the explicitly stated goal of Muslim leaders and organizations is to dominate America by a ‘civilization jihad,’ these schools collude with them to jeopardize our national security.”

In a similar case, TMLC announced this week that it had agreed to Richard Penkoski of West Virginia. Penkoski, a Christian evangelist who hosts the online “Warriors for Christ” ministry, objected to lessons and assignments his daughter had at the Mountain Ridge Middle School. On May 14, his seventh-grade daughter brought home a packet of school lessons that included the following:  

  • Write the Shahada, the Islamic conversion creed, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” in Arabic as part of “calligraphy” practice.
  • Fast for 24 hours and give lunch money and food to a food bank, to sympathize with Muslims going through Ramadan.
  • Read chapters from the Koran.
  • Learn the Five Pillars of Islam.

According to TMLC, the lessons and assignments propagandized the students by downplaying the violent nature of Islam. Penkoski told his daughter that she was not going to do the assignment and he immediately complained to the principal. Penkoski felt that his daughter’s teacher dedicated much more time on Islam than any other religion.  He said “most of the faith aspects of Christianity and Judaism were stripped from the lesson plan by the teacher. Students were not given calligraphy writing assignments in Judaism, or Christianity, only Islam.”

Penkoski and his wife Amanda have six children. While it would be easy to remove his daughter from the school, Penkoski said of the controversy, “We don’t back down during persecution.” They sought out TMLC for representation. 

Commenting on the case, TMLC president Thompson said, “This is typical of the public-school systems across the country.  Witless school officials have turned classrooms into Islamic indoctrination centers. They promote Islam in ways that would be unthinkable for Christianity or any other religion because they fear a lawsuit by the ACLU.” He went on to say, “Teachers sugar coat Islam. They don’t tell students about Islam’s barbaric brutality, where women and young girls are sold into slavery and used as sex-slaves, where men and women are stoned to death and burned alive—all in the name of Islam and the Koran.”

Islamic Propaganda and Religious Beliefs from Thomas More Law Center on Vimeo.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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