NASHVILLE, October 14, 2015– On Tuesday, Tennessee State Representative Sheila Butt (R-Columbia) issued a response after being labeled an Islamophobe by the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The group attacked Butt after she introduced a bill that sought to re-write the state’s social studies religion standards.
“Quite frankly, name calling adds no intelligence and has no relevance to this discussion,” said Butt. “Furthermore, it does nothing to ‘improve relations’.”
Last month, many Tennessee parents were upset to learn that their children were reportedly ordered to recite “Allah is the only God” over and over again in their 7th grade social studies classes during a study of Islam aligned with state standards.
Last week, Butt introduced HB1418, which would move the teaching of religious studies to 10th, 11th or 12th grades and would ensure that only a comparative teaching of religion with regards to historical events and geography was taught. The bill also specifically bans any curriculum that could be interpreted as indoctrination in favor of any specific religion, requiring that all religions are taught on equal grounds.
CAIR issued a critical statement against Butt and the legislation.
In the prepared statement, CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw called Butt an Islamophobe and said the legislation was bigoted and hate filled.
However, the bill targets no specific religion. In fact, it applies to all religions equally, which left Butt questioning why CAIR was targeting the bill.
“Tennessee HB1418 is neutral on its face as to the specific subject matter it addresses,” said Butt. “The bill is intended to prompt an open and rational discussion about the appropriate timing and weight of teaching religion in a student’s education. No one specific religion is mentioned in the bill.”
Regardless, CAIR called on its members to state legislators and the Governor to oppose the bill.