Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) may not be on board with a bill offered earlier this month that would keep elementary and middle school students from learning about religion. The legislation was proposed amidst complaints from parents and lawmakers that students were learning about too much about Islam.
“I don’t know how you talk about the founding of America, and what became of the United States, without talking about religious doctrine,” Haslam told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “Now, that’s very different than indoctrinating, or teaching that doctrine as truth.”
Haslam said he felt that the bill could keep students from understanding why the pilgrims left Europe for America in particular, according to the AP.
The bill proposed by Tennessee state Rep. Sheila Butt (R), would keep schools from teaching “religious doctrine” before the 10th grade and specifies that the curriculum cannot feature one religion more than another.
Butt’s bill followed concern from parents that students had to memorize the five pillars of Islam. Numerous lawmakers in the state quickly denounced the assignments on Islam as “indoctrination.”
“There is a big difference between education and indoctrination,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said in a statement. “It is reprehensible that our school system has exhibited this double-standard, more concerned with teaching the practices of Islam than the history of Christianity. Tennessee parents have a right to be outraged and I stand by them in this fight.”
Butt insisted that her bill does not target Islam, but the state lawmaker has gotten into hot water before for comments criticized as racist. She wrote in a February Facebook post that, “It is time for a Council on Christian Relations and an NAAWP in this Country.”
The comment appeared to be a riff on the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Butt deleted the post and said that NAAWP stood for the “National Association for the Advancement of Western Peoples.”