"Man is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself yet cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight." – Mark Twain
A recent letter to the editor, "Teaching Islam," described a voluntary education program on Islam as "unconstitutional" and "indoctrination" for providing information on the Islamic faith.
Really? Guess I missed this in my 33 years as a history teacher in Ohio, Florida, and England. Since my main focus was world history, religion was an essential theme in teaching, not preaching, the culture of people. Without knowledge of religion, cultural similarities and differences cannot be taught.
All the world's major faiths are of Eastern origin – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Confucianism, Shintoism. This listing is in order of current worldwide adherents to the various faiths. If listed chronologically, Islam would be last. Learn something?
Unless you teach the main principles of a faith, you cannot explain history and culture. Knowledge of Christianity is paramount in understanding The Middle Ages aka "The Age of Faith," the Crusades, Renaissance, Reformation, etc. Jesus, Old & New Testament, the Trinity, heaven and hell, ancient and current Israel/Palestine/"land of milk & honey"/Promised Land are part of any reliable world history curriculum. If your sources say such learning is forbidden, then get better sources. So too with Islam – Mohammed, purdah, jihad, hegira, Koran, the Crusades (again), Five Pillars, Mecca. Sound foreign? Look 'em up.
The same anachronistic argument was used during The Cold War to stifle teaching (not preaching) about Marx, Lenin, and communism. Evangelical purists should remember the ancient Chinese proverb of "know your enemy." No tariff or wall can keep out the wisdom of the ages, regardless of its point of origin.