A battle over religion is brewing in central Indiana after a public school wanted second graders to sing a song declaring, "Allah is God." The phrase was removed just before the performance after a national conservative group launched a protest.
The principal of Lantern Road Elementary School in Fishers, IN, said they were trying to teach inclusiveness through their holiday production. It included references to Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Las Posadas and Kwanzaa. However, no other deity, other than Allah, was referenced in the show.
"It went off...without a hitch," Danielle Thompson told the Indianapolis Star. "Several families thought it was a nice program."
But others did not - especially David Hogan. His daughter came home with a copy of the lyrics just days before the production. Hogan, a Christian, told the American Family Association, a conservative advocacy group, that he was deeply concerned to learn that his daughter had been singing, "Allah is God."
Here's what the children were assigned to sing:
"Allah is God, we recall at dawn, Praying 'til night during Ramadan At this joyful time we pray happiness for you, Allah be with you all your life through."
But when it came time to perform the "Christian" part of Christmas, children were assigned to say:
"I didn't know there was a little boy at the manger. What child is this? I'm not sure if there was a little boy or not. Then why did you paint one on your nativity window? I just thought if there was a little boy, I'd like to know exactly what he (sic) say.
Micah Clark, executive director of the Indiana AFA, launched an Internet protest once he heard about the allegations. "What surprised me here is that we've had a secular scrubbing of Christmas for so long and the school apparently didn't see the problem with kids singing to Allah," he told FOX News Radio. "You won't even mention Jesus and you're going to force my child to sing about Allah?
In email correspondence the school initially defended the reference as a way to be inclusive of all religions. However, once complaints starting rolling in, school leaders decided to eliminate the Allah reference.
That drew the ire of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana. "It's unfortunate if that was removed from the program just because of Islamophobic feelings," Shariq Siddiqui told the Indianapolis Star. "Schools are a place where we should learn more about each other rather than exclude each other based on stereotypes and misconceptions."
But Clark said having children bow and pray is problematic for non-Muslim families. "(This show) affirmed Islam and negated Christianity. I wouldn't have had a problem if it had been equal to all faiths."
At least one Christian family approved of the Allah reference. "I'm a Christian and I was in no way offended by the program at Lantern Road," said Judy Grasso to The Star.