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Class controversy: Parents worried course on Islam teaches religion

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STEELEVILLE, MO (KTVI) - A heated debate over religion in school is igniting a classroom controversy.

A social studies class in the small town of Steelville is teaching a section on Islam and at least one parent thinks the subject matter goes too far. The question at the center of this is whether kids are being taught historical context, or religion itself.

Brandy Morrow says her son came home last week with word that Islam would be the topic in his seventh grade class at his middle school. It's a chapter in the textbook, A Journey Across Time, which is found in plenty of school systems but has been criticized by some groups for it's handling of Islam. Brandy read the chapter, and felt it crossed the line of historical context.

"There is absolutely no harm in that and I have no problem with him learning the history of the religion. I have a problem with him learning the religion." said Brandy Morrow.

She says the book goes deeper into the teachings of the Quran than she would like.

"To me it`s no different than, if we were to go to school and teach the Ten Commandments, that`s against the separation of church and state and we can`t do that." said Brandy Morrow.

School officials have sent out a letter to families addressing the rumor that Islam is being taught in school here, saying it is not. This is an excerpt from the letter:

"It would not be possible to educate our students in the area of history and social studies without an integrated presentation of history with all of its components and influences, including religion. District teachers, during school time, do not endorse, nor do they diminish any religion. Finally, all District curricular materials, including textbooks are available for parent and citizen review."

Morrow says she has been told there would be no alternative assignment allowed, her son can take the course or flunk.

"I understand we have to learn history, and we have to learn how these people influenced the world. But we don`t have to learn what the Quran says," said Brandy Morrow.

The school superintendent wouldn't comment on whether an alternate assignment could be given. He declined an on camera interview on the advice of an attorney.