ACLU of North Carolina to Investigate Reports of Anti-Muslim Proselytizing to High School Students
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RALEIGH, NC – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina today announced that it is expanding its investigation into reports of longstanding, anti-Muslim proselytizing to students at Enloe High School in Raleigh. Expressing deep concern about the dismissive manner in which the school has handled this matter, the ACLU of North Carolina invited parents and students to contact the organization with information about proselytizing at Enloe High School on February 15, 2007 or any time prior.
“We are deeply disappointed by the manner in which the school has thus far handled these serious allegations,” said Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “In the face of overwhelming evidence that proselytizing took place in this public school, school officials have insisted on miscasting this as a free speech issue. Children’s religious upbringing should be directed by their parents, not by government officials entrusted with teaching students to read and write. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was designed to prevent this very activity.”
The father of an Enloe student contacted the ACLU of North Carolina to report that students in a social sciences class had been subjected to blatant proselytizing by a speaker invited to address the class by teacher Robert Escamilla. The speaker, Kamil Solomon, heads an anti-Muslim Christian evangelical organization called Kamil International Ministries Organization whose stated mission is “to teach the truth about Islam and equip Christians to share Jesus with Muslims.”
In addition to lecturing on the virtues of Christianity and the so-called evils of Islam, Solomon distributed two pamphlets to students, one entitled, “Jesus Not Muhammad Part 1,” and the other, “Do Not Marry a Muslim Part 1.” Both pamphlets seek to promote and endorse Christianity at the expense of Islam and encourage readers to embrace Christianity and shun Islam and its followers. One pamphlet calls Muhammad a “criminal,” “Demon Possessed,” “Inspired by Satan” and “Prejudiced,” while the other warns the readers that if they ever give up Christianity, they will face “eternal condemnation.”
Immediately upon learning of the incident, the ACLU of North Carolina attempted to contact Enloe High School principal Beth Cochran, who has not responded despite numerous phone calls. The organization has determined that blatant proselytizing did indeed take place in Escamilla’s class on February 15 and that for many years he has engaged in proselytizing to his students. The investigation also showed that the school has done nothing to put a stop to this unlawful activity.
The ACLU of North Carolina sent a letter to Cochran, expressing concerns about the incidents that had taken place and seeking written assurances from Enloe High School that presentations by faculty, staff and invited guests endorsing religion or promoting any particular religion at the expense of another would never again be allowed.
Del Burns, Superintendent of Wake County Public Schools, responded to the ACLU of North Carolina with a very short letter in which the school system acknowledged no illegal activity and made no promises to prevent future proselytizing from taking place. To date, no one from Enloe High School has returned any of the ACLU of North Carolina’s phone calls or directly responded to the organization’s letter.
“The school’s dismissive response to these constitutional violations is deeply troubling,” said Azadeh Shahshahani the ACLU’s Muslim/Middle Eastern Community Outreach Coordinator. “In light of reports we have received that this was not an isolated incident, we are actively inviting parents and students at Enloe to contact our office regarding Mr. Solomon’s presentation on February 15 and other incidents of school-sponsored proselytizing that they have witnessed at Enloe High School.”
Enloe High School students and their parents are encouraged to contact the ACLU of North Carolina at (919) 834-3466 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ACLU’s letter to Enloe High School and the school superintendent’s response to the ACLU’s inquiry are available online at: www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/EnloeHigh–Feb.2007.pdf
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