Mike Pence’s School Voucher Program Financed an Islamic School in Indiana

In the age of Trump and PenceBetsy DeVos will be in charge of public education but does not believe in public education, preferring instead to privatize schools with a strong preference for using public money to fund educational institutions that engage in religious indoctrination. According to Mother Jones,

Pence’s voucher program ballooned into a $135 million annual bonanza almost exclusively benefiting private religious schools—ranging from those teaching the Koran to Christian schools teaching creationism and the Bible as literal truth—at the expense of regular and usually better-performing public schools. Indeed, one of the schools was a madrasa, an Islamic religious school, briefly attended by a young man arrested this summer for trying to join ISIS—just the kind of place Trump’s coalition would find abhorrent …

Indiana’s choice law prohibits the state from regulating the curriculum of schools getting vouchers, so millions of dollars of the state education budget are subsidizing schools whose curricula teaches creationism and the stories and parables in the Bible as literal truth. Among the more popular textbooks are some from Bob Jones University that are known for teaching that humans and dinosaurs existed on the Earth at the same time and that dragons were real. BJU textbooks have also promoted a positive view of the KKK, writing in one book, “the Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross to target bootleggers, wife beaters and immoral movies.”

Let’s put aside for a moment the constitutional guarantee against the establishment of religion by the state.

The most worrisome aspect of this voucher scheme is that taxpayer money is now financing private Islamic schools similar to the madrasas that exist in theocratic shitholes like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc. In Pence’s home state of Indiana, the school voucher system is being used by 90 % of those attending Madrasa Tul Ilm, which has already produced one terrorist. The website for the school shows curricular and extra-curricular activities like Quran memorization competition, Islamic Studies, and Arabic.

How much peer pressure exists in this school in favor of teaching a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam and extracurricular Quran memorization? Shari’a Law, or Islamic jurisprudence, teaches that the testimony of a woman is worth half as much as that of a man, and girls as young as nine can be forced to marry men of any age. What are the views of the staff of the school regarding whether secular laws should be obeyed, and whether shari’a law must be eventually implemented in the West? Do our elected officials know this? Nowhere in our laws does there seem to be a public interest in knowing the answer to these questions, yet public money is flowing to this school.

It is naive for right-wing Christians to think that Muslims in various parts of our country, particularly in places like Dearborn, Michigan–which is already the first Muslim-majority US city–are not going to use every single one of the precedents that they set to replicate an Islamic version of the Christian theocracy that they are hoping the Trump regime will bring. If and when this happens, the Trump regime will have brought upon us the exact opposite of what it initially sought to protect us from: rapid Islamization and, perhaps, shari’a law. Children raised in Islamic madrasas will grow up sheltered from our country’s shared secular values and idealizing life under shari’a.

Keep education secular!!!!

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About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' and founder of societyofepicurus.com. He's also written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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