Islam v. Christianity: Are Texas Textbooks Fair?

By: Alex Sanz, KHOU Email
By: Alex Sanz, KHOU Email

The Texas State Board of Education is throwing itself into a nationwide debate over Islam and Christianity.

But some educators in Houston fear the debate might lead to a revision of history.

"I was a social studies teacher, and, I’m sorry. History is what it is. It happened," Gayle Fallon of the Houston Federation of Teachers said.

The board was direct in its assessment. They said some classroom history books devote more lines of text to Islam than Christianity, meaning some of the textbooks that used to be used in Texas were pro-Islam.

Fallon doesn’t agree.

"I’ve talked to the history teachers. They say there’s nothing there," Fallon said. "A textbook should not proselytize for any side. It should present fact. And, from what we’ve seen of the text, they present fact."

But Don McLeroy, of Texas State Board of Education, said he’s among the members who worries the textbooks are anti-Christian.

"It’s that great idea. That radical idea of Judeo-Christianity, that man is created in the image of God. So if you have world history books that downplay Christianity – Judeo-Christianity – and it doesn’t even make it in the table of contents, I think there’s a great concern," McLeroy said.

In the board’s official resolution, members cite textbook passages that call Christian Crusaders "invaders" and "violent attackers," while claiming Muslims were "empire builders."

The resolution also said that in some textbooks, Islam is glorified while Christianity is downplayed.

The Islamic Society of Greater Houston calls that a distortion of history.

"Those are American historians. And they are not Muslim historians," Aziz Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston said. "They are just stating the facts. They are not elevating anybody. They are not downgrading anybody. They’re just stating the facts as they are."

But the six-page resolution spells out dozens of other examples. In one history textbook, the board found twice as much text dedicated to Islam as Christianity.

In addition, board members said some of the books sanitized the definition of jihad.

"I’m not asking for anyone to have their roles diminished. I’m just saying, if you look at our books, our Judeo-Christian tradition has been diminished," McLeroy said.

He believes Texas needs to make a bold statement against that.

The board plans to vote on the resolution Friday.

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