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Teacher: Wake Has Instructional Double Standard

Posted May 29, 2007
Updated May 30, 2007

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— A Wake County high school teacher calls himself the subject of a witch hunt after he was suspended and then reassigned for inviting a Christian speaker who passed out religious tracts to students.

Robert Escamilla invited evangelist Kamil Solomon, head of Kamil International Ministries Organization, to speak to his social studies class on Feb. 16. The group says it is devoted to "teaching the truth about Islam." Solomon handed out pamphlets highly critical of Islam that included the heading "Why Women Should Not Marry Muslims."

After parents complained about the presentation, Escamilla was suspended with pay. Last week, the tenured teacher was transfered to Mary E. Phillips High School, an alternative school for problem students.

Superintendent Del Burns said in a statement that classroom instruction should never denigrate any religion or culture or try to proselytize students.

“Absolutely under no circumstances will we allow proselytizing or the denigration of any culture or religion in our schools. All students in the Wake County Public School System should be able to come to school each day feeling respected and supported,” Burns said.

“The presentation of the guest speaker at Enloe was unacceptable and very regrettable," the statement continued. "I apologize to members of our Muslim community who were understandably concerned and offended by this incident.”

In a Tuesday interview with WRAL, Escamilla said the school district has a double standard about instruction that undercuts any open exchange of ideas.

"Why I can have a satanist bring in a satanic bible, the cover of which is made of human flesh, and no problem, we're just out there?" he says, noting he has invited speakers from a range of religions to speak to his class over the years.

"Yet somebody presents a strong position that they believe in favor of Jesus Christ, and all of a sudden, all hell starts breaking loose. I don't get it," he said. "If that becomes too touchy for some people so that it is politically incorrect and unacceptable in a public education setting, then I think that's a tragedy."

Noting that four other Enloe High teachers whose classes participated in Solomon's presentation weren't disciplined although they never expressed any discomfort with the class, Escamilla said he is considering legal action against the school district.

Still, despite his suspension and transfer, he said he wouldn't change his decision to allow Solomon to speak to his class.

"Yes, it was controversial. Yes, some people disagreed. Yes, some people were upset about it. Let's work with that. Let's turn it into a positive experience," he said.

233 Comments

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  • lollly52 May 31, 2007

    @f15smtd – I think that I understand where you are coming from, and I respect that.. .. But let me pose a question. Shouldn’t kids be aware that there are other belief systems other than their own? HS is supposed to prepare kids at a basic level to be citizens. For kids who come from a strict fundamentalist background (be it Christian, Islam, Wiccan, whatever) - could it really hurt them to know that different people believe different things and that these people can be very eloquent in presenting the “truth” to support their belief system? Several Enloe students posted in the forum early on and said that this guy was a good teacher. He had presented many viewpoints. I think it bothers me that Satanism is OK but anti-Islam is not. Too PC for me.

  • mindlessfa99it May 31, 2007

    I love the part that claims the satanic bible is bound in human flesh.. hahahahahahahaha That made my day. Why does the media portray satanism as "evil"???? And so does christianity and the like. I have studied many different belifs and actually purchased a satanic bible. It's a paperback. lol. And they really aren't a religion at all. More of a philosophy on believing in yourself and doing what you want. Or what makes you happy (commonly concieved to be evil things that the devil tempts you with.) Anyway thought I would point that out because it cracks me up. And I think this guy was completely wrong to have that guy handing out anti islam papers.

    I think kids should be allowed to be well schooled on different religions, belifs and cultures. But don't bash one because of your own beliefs. Let the kids learn and decide on their own.

  • f15smtd May 31, 2007

    Religion should be left outside of the school. If someone wants to learn more about a religion, let them go out and do research on it on their own, not by being spoonfed the opinions of their teachers.

  • ncguy May 31, 2007

    I remember in my social studies class that a guy from FCA (fellowship christian athletes) talked to us in class. I even raised my hand and asked where the seperation from church and state was? I got a mean look from the teacher and nothing happened. I have no issue with this teacher.
    High schoolers are old enough to make their own decisions about religion.

  • Lightfoot3 May 31, 2007

    Hmmm, he brings in a Messianic Jew and a hate-monger Christian. I'm starting to see a pattern hear unless someone else can tell me he brought in a different religion, like Islam, Buddhism, Voodoo, etc.

  • skarfce69 May 31, 2007

    wow satan was created by a king i always thought he was a fallen angel like the good book says but i guess it could be just a book i would of liked my kids to met different religious people so they could understand them better not just be one sided like the good old bible belt here wants them to be

  • sarcher May 30, 2007

    I'm a former Enloe student, and I had Mr. Escamilla for two religion electives, including World Religions, the class in question here. Some commenters have suggested that it was unfair of him to bring in a speaker for one religion when he didn't bring in speakers for every other religion, but that would be impossible to do. In my World Religions class, he brought in a Messianic Jew, and we learned about a wide variety of other religions throughout the course. He stressed from the first day of class that his beliefs were his own and that everyone should form their own opinions, and gave all of the students in our class (including Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Protestants, Catholics, Wiccans, and others) a forum for their ideas. This type of class would be inappropriate for little kids, but Enloe is a high school, and an advanced one at that. The students there are old enough and smart enough to realize that just because an adult at school tells them something doesn't mean it's true.

  • Timothy Abraham May 30, 2007

    http://www.answering-islam.org/Testimonies/ibrahim.html

  • Mac May 30, 2007

    I thought it was supposed to be a virtue for people to stand up and support the right of others to speak, even if they disagree with them. People have forgotten that, though. The KKK is highly offensive, for example, yet we should fight for their right to speak. It's supposed to be the American way.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy May 30, 2007

    I love to see those types get attacked by thier own kind.....I'm sure to only offend those that know who I'm typing about!

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