Objections to religious education in public schools

West Virginia

A local middle school is teaching students about the most popular world religions. Except, one parent thinks these lessons have gone too far.

“The school’s job is not to teach faith but religion as a historical fact. Not religious dogma. Not religious doctrine. They don’t do it for Christianity, I don’t expect to do it for Islam,” said Rich Penkoski, parent of Mountain Ridge Middle School student.

Penkoski is a father of six and a minister who runs an online ministry out of his home. The topic of religious studies is near and dear to his heart.

“I send my daughters to school to learn math, science, reading, arithmetic not be indoctrined in a religious faith. That’s my job as a father. I teach religion to my kids,” said Penkoski. 

He told mountain ridge middle school that his seventh grade daughter, Brielle Penkoski, would not be doing a the homework packet  assigned involving the topic of Islam.

According to Berkeley County Public School’s Communications Director Elaine Bobo, the issue started after a seventh grade social studies class at Mountain Ridge Middle School started learning about world religions, including Islam. Officials say the teacher did not advocate for one religion over another.

Berkeley County officials released a statement Tuesday saying:

“Tolerance and respect for differences should be the result of studying the historic background, and perspectives of varying cultures and religion.”

Officials say no disciplinary action was taken.

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