Thursday, 26 August 2010

New York Regents Exams Favor Islam

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This week, the New York Post exposed the religious bias found within the New York State Regents exams. According to the Post, “State testmakers played favorites when quizzing high-schoolers on world religions — giving Islam and Buddhism the kid-glove treatment while socking it to Christianity.” The bias was found in specifically global history and geography exams, proving yet again that the liberal tenet of separation of church and state applies solely to Christianity.

Surprisingly, it was teachers who discovered and complained about the reading selections from the exams that “featured glowing passages pertaining to Muslim society but much more critical essay excerpts on the subject of Christianity.” Let’s face it. New York City teachers are not known for their conservative, pro-Christian ideals, (for example, read) but clearly the reading passages were disturbing enough to provoke anger from some of the most liberal teachers in the nation.

One Brooklyn teacher complained, “There should have been a little balance in there.”

Mark MacWilliams, a religious-studies professor at St. Lawrence University in upstate Canton, reacted to the passages. “I can see why some people might see these questions as skewed. Why does the exam seem to have only documents that portray Islam as a religion of peace, civilization and refinement, while it includes documents about Christianity that show it was anything but peaceful in the Spanish conquest of the Americas?”

The Post reports that one of the most “troubling passages” was Daniel Roselle’s “A World History: A Cultural Approach," which read: “Wherever they went, the Moslems [sic] brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western Christendom.”

Elsewhere in the exam, the Post found the following:

The Muslim reading:

• “Some of the finest centers of Moslem life were established in Spain. In Cordova, the streets were solidly paved, while at the same time in Paris people waded ankle-deep in mud after a rain. Cordovan public lamps lighted roads for as far as ten miles; yet seven hundred years later there was still not a single public lamp in London!”

Source: Daniel Roselle, A World History: A Cultural Approach

The Christian reading:

Common Procedures used by Friars in Converting Areas in Spanish America:

• “Idols, temples and other material evidences of paganism destroyed.”

•“Christian buildings often constructed on sites of destroyed native temples in order to symbolize and emphasize the substitution of one religion by the other.”

• “Indians supplied construction labor without receiving payment.”

• “In a converted community, services and fiestas were regularly held in the church building.”

Source: Based on information from Charles Gibson, Spain in America reacts to the portrayal of Islam on the exam: “Apparently there’s no mention of historical Islamic violence in the name of spreading the religion. No explanation as to why Istanbul is called ‘Istanbul’ and not ‘Constantinople.' "

Despite the presence of such fierce bias, state education officials argue that they’ve attempted to present historically accurate information through fair reading excerpts.

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