Lesson on Islam Didn’t Violate Establishment Clause or Free Speech Clause

From today’s decision in Wood v. Arnold, which strikes me as quite correct:

As an eleventh-grade student, Wood was required to take a world history course, which was part of the school’s social studies curriculum…. The smallest unit of the world history course, encompassing five days, was entitled “The Muslim World.” The unit was “designed to explore, among other things, formation of Middle Eastern empires including the basic concepts of the Islamic faith and how it along with politics, culture, economics, and geography contributed to the development of those empires.”

As part of the “Muslim World” unit, Wood’s teacher presented the students with a PowerPoint slide entitled “Islam Today,” which contrasted “peaceful Islam” with “radical fundamental Islam.” The slide contained the statement that “Most Muslim’s [sic] faith is stronger than the average Christian” (the comparative faith statement) (underlining in original)….

Wood also was required to complete a worksheet summarizing the lesson on Islam. The worksheet addressed topics such as the growth and expansion of Islam, the “beliefs and practices” of Islam, and the links between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Part of the worksheet required the students to “fill in the blanks” to complete certain information comprising the “Five Pillars” of Islam. Included in that assignment was the statement: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah[,]” a portion of a declaration known as the shahada (the shahada assignment). [Footnote: The underlined words reflect the parts of the statement that the students were required to complete.] For ease of reference, we collectively refer to the comparative faith statement and the shahada assignment as the “challenged materials.”

The court concluded that the assignment didn’t violate the Establishment Clause, because it had the permissible secular purpose of teaching about world religions, didn’t have the effect of promoting or endorsing Islam, and didn’t unduly entangle the government with religion (those are the three factors set forth by the Supreme Court’s Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) precedent):

The Supreme Court has recognized the secular value of studying religion on a comparative basis. In this case, the comparative faith statement was part of an

You can read the rest of this article at: https://reason.com/volokh/2019/02/11/lesson-on-islam-didnt-violate-establishm