Teaching Religion; U.S. Textbooks Distort History, Christianity

Article excerpt


I recently read a book that deserves the widest possible readership. The book is The Trouble with Textbooks - Distorting History and Religion by Gary A. Tobin and Dennis R. Ybarra. I have never met or talked with either of these gentlemen, but I can't say enough good things about this book. For all who believe that there is a fairly objective rendition of history that we are obliged to teach our children, this book reveals how shockingly far from that objective American education-and particularly school textbooks-have fallen.

In their conclusion, the authors quote the great historian of Islam, Bernard Lewis' observation concerning the willful bending of history: We live in a time when great efforts have been made, and continue to be made, to falsify the record of the past and to make history a tool of propaganda; when governments, religious movements, political parties, and sectional groups of every kind are busy rewriting history as they wish it to have been, as they would like their followers to believe that it was.

I discuss some of the findings of Mr. Tobin's and Mr. Ybarra's study in my latest book American Grit - What It Will Take to Survive and Win in the 21st Century, which will be released in January). The Trouble with Textbooks identifies a system of self-censorship and cultural equivalence that celebrates everybody and omits many unpleasant historic facts.

The grievance group that has become particularly adept at influencing textbook publishing is the organized Muslim lobby. The founder of the Council on Islamic Education, the chief Islamic group for vetting textbooks in the United States, refers to his work as a bloodless revolution - inside American junior high and high school classrooms.

He is, regrettably, right. While these days one may expect sensitive deference to Muslim sensitivities, the authors show how American textbooks have gone so far as to outright proselytize Islam.

As The Trouble with Textbooks shows, textbooks relate Christian and Jewish religious traditions as stories attributed to some source (for example, According to the New Testament- ), while Islamic traditions are related as indisputable historic facts. The authors cite the textbook Holt's World History, where one can read that Moses claimed to receive the Ten Commandments from God, but Muhammad simply received the Koran from God. In the textbook Pearson's World Civilizations, the book instructs that Jesus of Nazareth is believed by Christians to be the Messiah - which would be a fine comparative religion study observation if the book didn't also disclose that Muhammad received revelations from Allah. …