We are constantly told that the Constitution’s First Amendment mandates “a separation of church and state,” on the basis of which prayers are forbidden in public schools, and the Ten Commandments removed from court houses across America.
So why is it that an agency of the United States federal government — the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service — has produced a series of videos defending and extolling the Islamic religion?
Note: The words “separation of church and state” are not in the First Amendment, but are words from the phrase, “wall of separation between church and state,” in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802.
Todd Starnes reports for FoxNews, Sept. 23, 2013, that a series of videosproduced for the U.S. National Park Service shows American Muslim students blaming the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 on hatred against their faith. The videos also, laughably, promotes Islam — that “religion of peace” that stones women to death for rape and adultery, denies them an education, forbids them for driving a car even in Saudi Arabia, and entombs them from head to toe in black shrouds – as a pioneer in women’s rights.
First reported by Sancho Panza in the Independent Journal Review, the video was posted on the website for the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. It was filmed at the AnNur Islamic School in Schenectady, N.Y. by a National Park Service intern.
According to the park’s website, the three-part series features children as they “discuss their experiences and challenges with negative Muslim stereotypes and assumptions.”
Most of the videos show images of female students sitting in a classroom defending their faith and talking about how Muslims are persecuted for their beliefs in America.
One student says, “People always say, ‘You’re Muslims. Go back to your country. I mean, this is the land of the Native Americans. Everyone should go back to their country if you think about it.” Another student blames public perceptions about Islam on a “general ignorance about what Islam is. A lot of people are against us so they’d do anything to make us look bad. We’re all human beings. Just because we have a different religion doesn’t mean that we’re all difference from others.”
The video says: “Islam within itself, Islam itself means peace. Islam brings nothing but peace if you truly look into it.”
The videos spent considerable time on the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and how perceptions of Islam changed. “Since 9/11 happened – before there wasn’t that much hate against Muslims, but since 9/11 happened people saw that and that was a big thing because a lot of people died,” a student says in the video. “They just started believing this is what they do. This is what they know. This is what they’re supposed to do. This is what their holy book tells them. This is what their Prophet told them. They think that ever since.”
The students all agree that the terrorist attacks had something to do with how they are perceived. “A lot of people from Christianity and Judaism and a whole bunch of other religions – a lot of them have done stuff wrong, but especially if it’s Muslim, they think of it as we’re terrorists,” one student says. “If a Christian man does something or a Jewish man does something or an atheist man does something, nobody ever blames their religion,” another student says. “But if you see a Muslim man doing something, their religion is blamed when Islam brings nothing but peace when you truly look into it.”
Other students blame the media as the main reason for the negative portrayal of Islam. “Islam means peace, too. So we all just want to be peaceful with everybody. We’re supposed to represent our religion at all times. That’s something that the Prophet and God ordained on us. But especially after 9/11 we have to be super careful how we act around people, definitely watch what we say.”
The video also praises Islam’s treatment of women – while completely ignoring the violence and discrimination many women are still facing in modern-day Islamic countries. It declares that in seventh century A.D. Islam gave women the right to be involved in politics, the right to earn and keep their money and the right to work outside the home.
A Muslim student in the video says, “People think that Islam oppresses women and there’s no equality but they’re wrong. There’s equity. Islam gave women the right to own property, Islam gave women the right to divorce, Islam gave women the right to choose who she marries.” Another student says, “Islam gave women a whole bunch of rights that western women acquired later in the 19th and 20th centuries and we’ve had these rights since the 7th Century A.D. and it’s just not acknowledged worldwide.”
Erwin Lutzer, the author of The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent, told Fox reporter Starnes he is quite alarmed that the National Park Service would endorse videos that seem to rewrite history: “Islam has a very poor record when it comes to the rights of women. In Ontario in 2004, when the premier said Sharia law should be practiced in Muslim enclaves, it was the women from Muslim countries who joined others to oppose it. (They) said Sharia law is legalized violence against women.”
Lutzer was puzzled as to why the National Park Service would commend Muslims on this particular issue, and that the video’s claims have no historical basis whatsoever: “If you look at the history of Islam, there was no such thing as equal rights between men and women. We must be very careful here when history is sometimes made out of thin air.”
For their part, the National Park Service says no federal taxpayer dollars were spent on the production of the videos (as if that makes the video okay!), and that the funding came through a donation from the Friends of Women’s Rights National Historical Park.
National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst told Starnes, “The videos are part of the park’s ongoing effort to share the story of the women’s rights movement and show that the fights for human and civil rights – including the freedom to worship – are struggles that continue to this day.”
The National Park Service did not respond to questions about whether they’ve produced videos promoting other religions – like Christianity or Judaism.
Dr. C is the Editor of Consortium of Defense Analysts.