Lessons on Islam Continue Sparking Furor & Other Faith Ed. News

Greetings! I’m pictured above between two former colleagues of mine from my years at The Boston Globe — April Simpson and David Schutz. Both came to my reading at the lovely Books & Books in Miami on Jan. 17. Loved my visit to Books & Books, which has an indoor and outdoor cafe and does something wonderful for authors & readers: It videos & records each talk. So if you missed my Miami talk, you can find at this livestream Books & Books link. Ah, and if you’re in the Miami area, Books & Books asked me to sign several copies for them to carry in both of their stores. You can stop by or order one.

Meanwhile, furor over lessons on Islam in the curriculum seem to rage on, reflecting the tenor of our times. The latest flap is continuing controversy in the state of Tennessee as lawmakers try to push a measure that would, in their words, “stop Islamic religious indoctrination” in the state’s schools. The problem, as usual, is that teachers are not actually trying to indoctrinate anyone with the required lessons about the world’s religions in the social studies curriculum. Perhaps the biggest scratch-your-head part of the proposed measure is this passage: “Any inclusion of religion in textbooks, instructional materials, curriculum, or academic standards can only be for educational purposes and are strictly prohibited from being used to promote or establish any religion or religious belief.” Yes, of course. Schools should not be a place to promote any religion or any religious belief. The state measure in this aspect is merely restating what the First Amendment establishes.

What’s playing out in Tennessee resembles some of the textbook battles in Texas in recent years over what should be included about Christianity v. Islam. Religion scholar David Brockman has written several articles on this worth reading, including this piece that ran in Scalawag.

Meanwhile, here’s a glance at my latest articles and interviews:
1) How Schools Overlook Religious Minorities… a commentary for RNS. (RNS is the Religion News Service, which distributes articles to numerous publications, including The Washington Post.)
2) Indoctrination is not the real issue in lessons on Islam, another Religion News Service piece.
3)Religion scholar Ken Chitwood interviewed me for his blog that looks at current events involving religion. You can find the interview here.

Upcoming Events:
Feb. 11, 8 p.m.: Talk for Temple Emanuel Sisterhood, 385 Ward Street, Newton Center, MA. RSVP to Judy Bolton-Fasman at jbolfas@comcast.net.
Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m.: Talk at Temple Shir Tikvah’s Shabbat service. Temple Shir Tikvah, 34 Vine St., Winchester.

Check my events listing at www.faithedbook.com for more updates in months to come, including my participation as a co-presenter in Grub Street’s Muse & the Marketplace 2016, in Boston in May.

As always, thank you for reading! I generally don’t mention this, but if you’ve read Faith Ed., feel free to review it on Amazon. Many thanks to those who have already taken the time to give their review.

Ps. Given the snow that has blanketed much of the country in recent days, I figured I’d include a photo from Florida as an alternative to that white fluffy stuff.

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