In 597 BC, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah and part of his strategy involved removing defeated peoples from their homeland and transporting them to other regions of the empire. It was thought if they were living in another area of the world there would be less incentive to rebel and try to reclaim their country. And for the most part that was probably true.
Part of this process also involved bringing the best and brightest of the conquered nations into Babylon where they were trained in the ways of Babylon. These young leaders were undoubtedly expected to influence Jews now in captivity.
Initially, these men including Daniel were allowed to practice their faith and eat the foods approved under the Mosaic law. However, things took a dramatic change when Nebuchadnezzar constructed a giant statue and required everyone to bow down and worship it, under the threat of a fiery death if they didn’t obey.
When three of Daniel’s friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) refused to compromise their faith in Jehovah by bowing to another god, they were immediately seized and thrown into a large furnace. But God intervened and miraculously spared their lives (Daniel 3:8-30).
Oddly this account may have some similarities to an incident that took place in 2016 at La Plata High School in Maryland, USA.
Caleigh Wood, who was in grade 11 at the time, was probably about the same age as Daniel and his friends when they ran into their problems in Babylon.
According to the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a non-profit legal organization dedicated to preserving religious freedom in America, the incident took place in a history class at the school that included a section on Islam.
According to TMLC, part of this class included the following concepts that specifically challenged the Christian faith:
- “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.”
- “To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism.”
I do not agree with these statements, but it is what Muslims believe and as long as the school gives equal time to Christian beliefs this is probably the best we can hope for under the circumstances. The students are free to believe it or not.
However, TMLC alleges the class took a bit of turn when:
“She (Caleigh Wood) was required to profess in writing, the Islamic conversion creed, ‘There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.'”
According the TMLC, Caleigh believed it was a sin to confess any other God but Jehovah and asked for either an exemption from this assignment or an alternate one because of her Christian faith.
The teacher said no and when Caleigh refused to do it, she received a failing mark on the assignment. Fortunately, this did not significantly impact Caleigh’s overall grade.
Certainly, Caleigh’s punishment was no where near what was threatened in Babylon, but nevertheless TMLC alleges the school punished Caleigh for her unwillingness to compromise her faith.
Because of this, the Wood family and TMLC decided to challenge the school in court alleging that it violated Caleigh’s Freedom of Religion rights provided by America’s First Amendment Establishment Clause by forcing her to confess belief in another faith.
This amendment not only provides religious freedom to Christians but other religions as well. Speaking on behalf of TMLC, Chief Counsel Richard Thomas noted:
“I’m not aware of any school which has forced a Muslim student to write the Lord’s prayer or John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'”
After losing two lower court cases, in May, 2019, TMLC petitioned the US Supreme Court for a hearing on the case. It is uncertain at this time, if the Supreme Court will hear the case.
- Thomas More Law Center Asks Supreme Court To Decide How Far Schools Can Promote Islam And Disparage Christianity: Thomas More Law Center
- U.S. school fails Christian student for refusing Islamic prayer: WND.com
- Will Supreme Court Agree that Christian Student Should Be Forced to Cite Islamic Conversion Prayer in School?: CBN