Augusta County Says “No!” to the Shahada

Augusta County, Virginia is very close to us — just over Afton Mountain in the Shenandoah Valley. It’s an ordinary Virginia county, mostly rural. Staunton and Waynesboro are the big towns.

Augusta made national headlines this week because the mother of a high school student — a real “grizzly mama” — objected to an assignment that required him to copy out the shahada, the Islamic profession of faith. She probably didn’t know that if he had completed his assignment, his action would have constituted conversion to Islam in the eyes of Muslims. But she objected anyway.

Her action caused a big ruckus in social media, which made the national news. As a result, Augusta County closed all its schools today as a “safety precaution”.

Dymphna has been collecting a lot of material about this, and we’ll be posting more about it in the next day or two. But a couple of points are worth noting:

1.   Augusta County doesn’t have a significant Muslim population, as far as I know. The Jamaat ul-Fuqra compounds are all over on this side of the Blue Ridge.
2.   The assignment was drawn from a curriculum handed down by the Commonwealth of Virginia, which almost certainly means it originated with the federal government. If that’s the case, I can guarantee you that it was inserted in that form by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Below are excerpts from the CNN report on the controversy, with a video:

Schools in Virginia shut over anger at Islam homework

(CNN)After a teacher at a Virginia school handed out a standard homework assignment on Islam, such an angry backlash flooded in that it prompted officials to close every single school in the county as a safety precaution.

“While there has been no specific threat of harm to students, schools and school offices will be closed Friday, December 18, 2015,” Augusta County Schools said. Extracurricular activities were shut down Thursday afternoon.

And social media exploded over the school lesson — a simple drawing assignment — into a caustic discussion about religion and education.

Draw this

When the world geography class at Riverheads High School in Staunton rolled around to the subject of major world religions, homework on Islam asked students to copy religious calligraphy.

It read:

“Here is the shahada, the Islamic statement of faith, written in Arabic. In the space below, try copying it by hand. This should give you an idea of the artistic complexity of calligraphy.”

The illustrative classical Arabic phrase was the basic statement in Islam. It translated to: “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.”

Angry calls

When students took it home, it was like a spark hitting a powder keg. Some of their parents saw the homework as an attempt to convert their children to Islam.

Calls and emails flooded the school. Some of them demanded the teacher be fired for assigning it.

Cheryl LaPorte had not designed the assignment herself, but took it from a standard workbook on world religions, local newspaper The News Leader reported.

LaPorte told The News Leader that now her job is to get her students through Standards of Learning tests.

No more shahada

The county school system reacted.

It removed the shahada from world religion instruction. “A different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future,” it said.

And it issued a statement saying no one was trying to convert anyone to any religion.

“Neither of these lessons, nor any other lessons in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief,” Augusta County Schools official Eric Bond said in a statement to CNN affiliate WHSV.

Not enough

But that hasn’t been enough for Kimberly Herndon, who kept her ninth-grade son home from school.

“There was no trying about it. The sheet she gave out was pure doctrine in its origin,” she told WHSV.

“I will not have my children sit under a woman who indoctrinates them with the Islam religion when I am a Christian,” she said.


On Monday, Augusta County issued a letter reassuring parents that schools in the county were safe. It did not refer to the homework assignment but did say that parents had become worried about security.

“All doors are locked with the exception of one front door. … Faculty and staff monitor all activities inside and out of the buildings.” Standard security procedures, the letter explained.

But as the week went on, officials got more specific about the source of concern — calls and email messages — and their target — the world geography class.

“The school division began receiving voluminous phone calls and electronic mail locally and from outside the area,” the school system said. And the “tone and content” were nasty.

The sheriff deployed more officers to county schools and began monitoring communications. Then all the schools in the county shut down.


As passions overflow, for fear of their potential effects, Augusta County Schools will remain shuttered over the weekend for all activities.

Hat tip: Diana West.

24 thoughts on “Augusta County Says “No!” to the Shahada

  1. None of the stories mentioned an important part of the Shenandoah Valley history: the very old and significant Mennonite community that spread south from Pennsylvania in the 1700s.

    They are noted for a number of things, aside from their traditional dress – called “plain” – (think Laura Ingalls Wilder illustrations). Their farm practices are models of “sustainability” before that word was taken over by the greens. Their bakeries sell wonderful breads and pastries, and also deliver them. They have a good reputation for quality buildings and carpentry.

    These people are descendants of the original German groups who moved south from Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War and proceeded to “increase and multiply” without ever evangelizing. They have their own schools, including small colleges.

    Most importantly, the Mennonites are responsible for the spread throughout the Valley and over the mountain into the east, of an excellent curriculum they developed to train community mediators to work outside the court system ( in order to relieve its case load). They trained us to listen carefully and to work meticulously toward resolution so that both sides were satisfied. These were landlord/tenant disputes, some child visitation arguments, etc. I found the course immensely appealing; completed all of it but the last part of my practicum. It was one of the things I most regretted giving up with the onset of fibromyalgia.

    • Dymphna, I took a course on Restorative Justice from a Mennonite college some years ago.

      The mediation aspect has been effectively used within my circle of family and friends. They don’t even know it is being applied 😉

  2. Why, are so many American schools pushing islam? As if I didn’t know. The schools would be better advised to concentrate more on history, to shed more light on just who they are bowing to, but then I have little doubt they would somehow manage to portray islam as just some quaint desert religion, no danger, and perhaps even something to emulate….

    The infiltration of islam into American schools seems to be happening at an astonishing rate; even Catholic schools capitulating more in Obama’s seven years than European schools in the last twenty years. How bad the situation is in Canada, particularly Toronto, I have no idea; but then Canada always has been more of a locked, secretive country than America.

  3. Its great that this made news here in the UK too. Even though our mainstream media for some unfathomable reason did not identify this as being the Shahada and the implications of this.

  4. If you object to your kids sucking up their Islam, we’ll close the schools down give them no education. So there.

  5. Every time I hear of a school system going off on these weird social engineering tangents, I say the same thing:

    And the kids still graduate without having any idea what an apostrophe is for!

    The main priority is always “Turn them all into robotic leftists,” and “Teach them basic English and math” is not considered important.

  6. I’m betting that as punishment, Augusta County will be saddled with an extra-large mob of Somalians and “Syrians” by the Feds, just to show the residents who’s boss.

  7. When people have important commitments to embody and to certify with the community of our village, we often swear or produce an oath before witnesses. Marriage is an example of confirming in public with witnesses, via spoken affirmation.
    I have an understanding that the community of Islamic practitioners likes to have witnesses to a “coming to the faith” verbal pronouncement of the shahada as a certification of a conversion into a faithful member. Is this other peoples’ understanding — maybe no real Islamic meaningfulness without 2, 3, or 4 practicing Muslims in attendance?
    But in an era of technological capabilities, and the vehemence of apostasy ideations, do Not go gently into that darkness of ineptitude of mistakenly, accidentally joining up with a faith under fire.

  8. Practicing calligraphy is a noble task. I could think of several thousands of medieval European texts that would provide an endless source of study material.
    Why are American schools pushing Islam?
    Does the name Barack Hussein Obama ring a bell?

    • This was my first thought. There are also the dozens of fonts available on text editors such as MS Word which children could be taught. From popular culture there are the fonts used in Lord of the Rings, so many options.
      When children are first taught to write they’re not taught scripture, so why the Moslem affirmation of faith? It could be laziness, in that it’s easily found and recognisable, then again so is the version on the ISIS flag.

  9. People, you should read Antonio Gramsci’s works to really understand what’s going on… This happens in Brazil, too, but here nobody cares.

    • I’ve known about Gramsci and his methods for a decade or more. But then, that’s just me: abnormally curious about the whys and hows of societal degeneracy and destruction.
      Harriet — from the Southwest USA

      • Me too. The documentsry/movie : agenda: grinding America down” can be found on YT or vimeo still free I think.
        Recommended. Also mentions Gramsci

  10. “If that’s the case, I can guarantee you that it was inserted in that form by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

    Common Core. Thank the MB’s influence in BHO’s loving arms via the DOE.

  11. When the only true God is banned from the classroom, a Spiritual vacuum forms and evil spirits rush in to fill it, like the legion of demons who requested of Jesus to cast them out of the demon-possessed man into a very large herd of swine who immediately stampeded over a steep cliff into the lake drowning them all. This must be the real reason that the kindred spirits of Islam abhor pigs to this day.

    • “true god”

      Says you…based on no evidence whatsoever.

      ‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon
      them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.
      This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
      and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,
      for on his brow I see that written which is Doom.

      • Patrick, you probably parse the word “evidence” differently from those who use it in the context of faith.

        Generally speaking, Christians are ill-equipped to address these issues in a public forum. It remains the case, however, that the heart has reasons Reason knows not of, so your proposition has no more legitimacy than his.

        Jay Stephen has missed the point of this post. It is not a defense of Christian belief but an investigation of the ways in which the Federales use “education” to undermine our common heritage.

        The fact that you chose to use his mistake to push your point of view is no less mistaken.

        I object to your use of Dickens, taken out of context, to make your questionable point about ‘evidence’. It lacks integrity and compassion. If we – believers and non-believers alike – fail to find common cause against a supremacist ideology determined to kill us all, then we deserve our fate. That fate will include you, Patrick – there will be NO bystanders in this fight for our civilization.

        Thus, I ask not that you “believe” – that’s your business, not mine – but that you develop your own faculty of discernment so as to differentiate the core problem. HINT: it is *not* Jay Stephen’s mis-use of the word ‘evidence’.

        • Evidence or faith?

          The moral philosophy behind Christianity is admirable and worthwhile as a lens through which to view our existences and interact within it.

          Just as there are other worthwhile moral philosophies. The list of which does not include Islam.

  12. Schools should be giving Mohammad the same treatment as Hitler in their history lessons. Muslim complaints should be ignored just as much as Nazi complaints would be.

    • But they don’t. Why? Maybe it’s because Mohammed’s message is international socialism which fits with the current worldview whereas Hitler’s message was national socialism which doesn’t.

      • Mohammed’s message is pretty much the opposite of socialism… how much is there about equality, fair pay, anti-imperialism or any of the other common messages of socialism? But it’s anti-Western – hence the subversive leftists can find common cause.

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