Tuesday, December 22, 2015




Wikileaks ruling:

The Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the PressLucy Dalglish, commented:
"It's not very often a federal judge does a 180 degree turn in a case and dissolves an order. But we're very pleased the judge recognized the constitutional implications in this prior restraint."

Defense of Marriage Act Struck Down:

In 2012, White ruled in favor of a staff attorney in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who sued to get health benefits for her spouse under California law. In his ruling he struck down the Defense of Marriage Act for failing even the most deferential rational basis test.

SEE: below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
A federal judge in California has ordered pro-life and faith-based pregnancy centers to promote abortion, because “the public interest would be served.”
But the ruling from U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White is a long way from the end of the conflict. Several parallel cases in other jurisdictions challenge the constitutionality of the state demand that pro-life centers post a sign promoting the state’s abortion services.
The pro-life care centers sued, arguing the Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency Act was a blatant violation of the constitutional principle that government cannot force individuals to convey government-mandated speech.
White determined, nevertheless, that “the public interest would be served by denying the stay pending appeal and allow the development of government policies generated through legislation or regulations developed through presumptively reasoned democratic processes.”
The Trial Insider blog reported the law was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in the fall, and enforcement is set to begin Jan. 1.
Living Well Medical Clinic and others sued over the requirement to carry a government message.
Focusing on its aim of recognizing “human life from the moment of conception and to minister in the name of Jesus Christ to women and men facing unplanned pregnancies,” the care centers said the mandated state notice “is inconsistent with their religious commitments as they believe that ‘abortion is wrong and have never referred, nor would they refer, a client to have an abortion.’”
WND reported similar legislation was thrown out by the courts when it was attempted in New York. It also has failed in several other federal court jurisdictions.
Nevertheless, California advanced the idea, and now a number of cases have been brought both by the Pacific Justice Institute and the American Center for Law and Justice.
“It is imperative that we stop the government from forcing people of conscience to advocate messages to which they are morally and religiously opposed. If the government can do this, none of our First Amendment freedoms are secure,” said PJI President Brad Dacus.
Courthouse News reported White found “the disclosures do not include language endorsing or recommending such services. Rather, the mandated notice only notifies consumers of the existence of state-funded options.”
The care centers already have said they will not post the notice, which they believe violates their faith and their freedom of speech.
Other cases were argued in just the past few days, but the judge, Kimberly Mueller, has not released her opinion.
Dacus said it appears simply to be a new way of generating business for an abortion industry that is failing as fewer and fewer women choose that option.
The law, AB 775, still faces trial on its constitutionality, no matter the preliminary ruling from the judges.
“Forcing a religious pro-life charity to proclaim a pro-abortion declaration is on its face an egregious violation of both the free speech and free exercises clauses of the First Amendment,” said Dacus when the cases were announced.
“We will not rest until this government mandate is completely halted,” he said.
One complaint explains: “The content of the government message memorialized in AB 775 directly contradicts the foundational religious principles upon which A Woman’s Friend operates, as well as the message it conveys to its clients regarding abortion. As a result, A Woman’s Friend is subject to imminent adverse enforcement action against it by defendant.”
California’s Democrat attorney general, Kamala Harris, urged the legislature to adopt the bill and fine faith organizations $500 if they fail to provide the abortion information the first time. Fines thereafter would be $1,000 per incident.
The law requires faith groups to tell women: “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including allocating FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at (insert the telephone number).”
It also requires that the message not only be handed out but also posted on the walls of waiting rooms on signs with specified dimensions.
WND reported the resolution to a similar case in New York.
In New York, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said the state could require crisis pregnancy centers to disclose whether they have a licensed medical provider on staff but not whether the center provides abortions or referrals, because that violates the First Amendment.
The ruling was left untouched by the Supreme Court.
Attorney Herbert W. Titus of William J. Olson, P.C., who has taught constitutional law, common law and other subjects for decades at several universities, told WND it’s “not the government’s business to force anybody to carry the message of anyone else.”
“That is certainly what’s being done here,” he said.
Thomas Jefferson, he noted, described that very action as “sinful and tyrannical.”
“It’s fairly typical of California, [which is] always on the cutting edge of making us more and more like a fascist country, in which the state determines what we can say and what we can’t say,” Titus told WND.
Titus also has served as a trial attorney and special assistant U.S. attorney with the Department of Justice. He holds degrees from Harvard and the University of Oregon and for several years had his own daily radio program. He has testified on constitutional issues before Congress and state legislatures.


SEE: below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

A liberty-minded Utah think tank is proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would protect private property from being effectively eradicated by any level of government overreach.
Libertas Institute announced on December 16 that it was working with state representative Mel Brown, who will introduce a bill adding one word to the state constitution that would buttress the wall separating property owners’ rights from the grasp of government.
"It's widely believed that property rights are a fundamental aspect of good government," said Connor Boyack, president of Libertas Institute. "But our research, along with conversations with land use attorneys, property owners, and city officials, makes clear one simple fact: they don't actually exist to the degree most people would expect.”
"This constitutional amendment, though simple, is significant," Boyack continued. "Property rights protections are out of balance, and judges lack the ability to overturn the actions of neighbors or cities that violate this right, simply because there is no relevant constitutional language. We're hoping to fix that with this proposal.”
The constitutional amendment aims to balance a property owner's right against a city's ability to arbitrarily restrict this right, unless a compelling state interest can be shown in protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.
"For years we've heard and collected stories of people's property rights being violated in Utah, and now we're excited to offer a simple solution that will restore balance between a property owner's rights, and the interests of city government," said Josh Daniels, policy analyst at Libertas Institute. "We are confident that the legislature will recognize the importance of this amendment and submit it favorably to Utah voters on the 2016 ballot.”
In a public policy brief published by the organization, the situation in one rural Utah town highlights the need to shore up the formerly sacrosanct right to property:
Virgin is a small, rural town in Washington County, Utah. Home to approximately 600 residents, it is located along SR-9, the road that leads to Zion National Park. About seven years ago, Duane and Susan Munn took notice of a scenic, 80+ acre parcel of land that was available for sale. Despite not knowing how they might ultimately use it, they decided to purchase the land.
Unbeknownst to these new land owners, a group of residents, calling themselves the “Friends of Virgin,” organized themselves to change the land-use ordinances, control how others could use their property, and prevent any future commercial development. Their success has prevented this family from developing the land ever since.
As a result, nearby towns enjoy significant commercial development, while such progress has completely stagnated in Virgin. To this day, it is not possible to buy a gallon of gas or a loaf of bread within town limits — and many residents of the community intend to keep it that way.
The document supports its position with paragraph after paragraph rehearsing the history of property rights in the United States: “Government in the United States of America — municipal, state, or federal — was intended to protect pre-existing rights, including and especially the right to use property,” Libertas contends.
“The advent of zoning and land-use ordinances led local governments to instead position themselves as grantor of property rights, relying upon an expansive interpretation of a U.S. Supreme Court case to assert authority and claim general control over the development of property within their jurisdictions. Left unchecked, these policies have proliferated, to the detriment — and direct violation — of fundamental property rights,” the paper asserts.
There is no doubt that our Founding Fathers regarded property rights as among the most sacred and the most fundamental to the development of government founded on the consent of the governed.
John Locke was one of the thinkers most influential on the men of the Founding generation, and his defense of a person’s right to exercise control over his own legal property is clear and used to be convincing. 
In Chapter 19 of his seminal Second Treatise on Civil Government, Locke wrote:
Whenever the Legislators endeavor to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common Refuge, which God hath provided for all Men, against Force and Violence. Whensoever therefore the Legislative shall transgress this fundamental Rule of Society; and either by Ambition, Fear, Folly or Corruption, endeavor to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other an Absolute Power over the Lives, Liberties, and Estates of the People; By this breach of Trust they forfeit the Power the People had put into their hands, for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the People, who have a Right to resume their original Liberty. [Emphasis in original.]
Representative Brown and the Libertas Institute have obviously read and understand Locke’s words and appreciate their historical as well as contemporary applicability to property in Utah. 
In a summary of their research and report on the erosion of property rights, the group faithfully recites American history in defense of their proposal:
Property rights were an essential and fundamental pillar of the American experiment, and their usurpation and violation were among the reasons listed in the Declaration of Independence that justified separation from Great Britain and the formation of a new country.
Unfortunately, governments at all levels of this country have become just as oppressive on this issue as the King once was; property rights, though widely regarded as a core aspect of good government, are routinely subordinated to the interests of the state. They are frequently mentioned on the campaign trail, in academia, and in debates over political theory, but in actual practice, property rights are not what they were initially intended to be.
While many states constitutionally protect the right to acquire, possess, and protect property, no state recognizes one’s inalienable right to actually use it. The need is great, and the fix is easy; Utah now has an opportunity to be a leader in restoring and protecting this right.
Sadly, one front in the battle to restore property rights is completely ignored by the Libertas Institute: the United Nations’ Agenda 21.
Agenda 21 would see people robbed of their rights to property and collected into urban areas, with all property being ceded (forcibly) to one or the other government (U.S. or global) agency for the purpose of supporting sustainable development. The John Birch Society is on the front lines of the war to defeat the globalists' push to consolidate control over all property.
Securing property rights is essential to the preservation of liberty. As Ron Paul once wrote:
Privacy is the essence of liberty. Without it, individual rights cannot exist. Privacy and property are interlocked. If both were protected, little would need to be said about other civil liberties. If one’s home, church or business is one’s castle, and the privacy of one’s person, papers and effects [is] rigidly protected, all rights desired in a free society will be guaranteed. Diligently protecting the right to privacy and property guarantees religious, journalistic and political experience, as well as a free market economy and sound money. Once a careless attitude emerges with respect to privacy, all other rights are jeopardized.
The Libertas Institute is working with Representative Brown to push the property-protecting amendment through the state legislature in its next session. Should state lawmakers approve the measure, it will be on the ballot in 2016 for consideration by the citizens of the Beehive State.



‘Iran Czar’ tells Congress nuke deal prohibits congress from restricting terrorist visas

republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

Senior Obama administration officials are expressing concern that congressional attempts to tighten laws preventing terrorists from entering the United States could violate the Iran nuclear agreement and prompt Tehran to walk away from the agreement.
Congress is considering measures that would tighten the Visa Waiver Program to make it harder for potential terrorists to legally enter the United States by increasing restrictions on individuals who have travelled to countries with prominent terrorist organizations from bypassing security checks upon entering the United States.
Iranian officials have in recent days repeatedly issued threatening statements to the Obama administration, saying that such moves would violate the nuclear agreement, and the Obama administration last week conveyed the Iranian anger to American lawmakers.
Stephen Mull, the State Department official in charge of implementing the Iran deal, warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee late last week that these congressional efforts “could have a very negative impact on the deal.”
Under the revised law, which came in the week of a deadly terrorist attack in California, individuals who have travelled to Iran—a lead sponsor of global terrorism—would no longer be eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program, which permits individuals from 38 partner nations to more easily enter the United States.
Congress remains concerned that gaps in the program could prevent federal law enforcement officials from detecting terror-tied individuals before they are granted entrance to U.S. soil.
However, a portion of the Iran nuclear deal mandates that the United States not take any action that could harm Iran’s economic relationships with other countries. Iranian officials maintain that the new restrictions violate this passage of the deal.
Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, said last week that these tightened measures “are aimed at harassment” and that they “blatantly violate the nuclear agreement,” according to comments carried by the Iranian state-controlled press.
Larijani warned that this action will detonate the deal before it has even been implemented.
“If the Americans pursue the plan, they will destroy an achievement with their own hands since it is against the [nuclear deal] and it will trouble them,” he warned.
Rep. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) echoed these concerns last week when he questioned Mull during a Senate hearing.
Visa waiver reform efforts include “a naming of Iran such that individuals who have travelled to Iran will no loner be eligible for the visa waiver program,” Murphy said. “There has been a suggestion because there is an element of the agreement that obligates us to not to take steps that would stop economic relations between other nations and Iran that we could perhaps be in jeopardy of breaching the agreement.”
Mull agreed with this assessment.
“I have heard from very senior, and Secretary [of State John] Kerry has as well, from very senior officials of differing European allies of ours that it could have a very negative impact on the deal,” he said.
Sources working with Congress on the Iran deal criticized the Obama administration for attempting to stymie increased action on terrorism due to its desire to preserve the nuclear deal.
“According to the Obama administration’s latest interpretation, the nuclear deal allows Iran to test ballistic missiles in violation of international law, but does not allow Congress to prevent terrorists from coming into the United States,” Omri Ceren, the managing director of press and strategy at The Israel Project, a D.C.-based organization that works with journalists on Middle East issues, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Seyed Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, also warned that Iran is prepared to “take action” against the United States for implementing visa restrictions.
Iran’s latest threat to break the deal comes amid numerous Iranian provocations, including multiple tests of advanced ballistic missiles, acts prohibited under United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The Obama administration repeatedly said that, while it does not agree with those launches, they do not violate the nuclear deal.

Lawmakers Slam White House Attempts to Skirt Counter-Terror Laws for Iran

Leading state sponsor of terror opposes 
counter-terrorism measure
republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

More than 20 lawmakers have penned letters to the Obama administration expressing anger over its recent decision to waive certain counter-terrorism measures aimed at preventing potential terrorists from easily entering the United States in order to assuage Iran.
The letters from members of Congress come days after the Obama administration promised Iranian leaders it would veto newly passed initiatives tightening the U.S. visa waiver program to close loopholes that have enabled a number of terrorists to enter the country legally.
The new measures would bar individuals who have recently traveled to Iran—the leading state sponsor of terrorism—from participating in the visa waiver program, which eases travel for those from 38 member countries.
Iran expressed anger over the laws, claiming that they violate the recent nuclear accord and could force Iran to abandon the deal before it is even enacted.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a recent letter to Javad Zarif, the country’s foreign minister, that the administration would ignore the enhanced counter-terrorism measures.
In two separate letters sent Tuesday to the Departments of State and Homeland Security, lawmakers described this action as unconscionable and noted that Iranian actions have been responsible for killing a number of Americans.
“While we understand that Iranian officials have expressed their anxieties to you that this new provision could undermine business opportunities in Iran by international investors, it is beyond belief that those concerns would supersede a newly-enacted U.S. law designed to protect the American people from terrorism,” wrote 20 members of Congress, including Republican Reps. Bob Dold (Ill.), David Joyce (Ohio), Ron DeSantis (Fla.), and Mark Walker (N.C.).
The law, which the president has already signed but has threatened to waive in order to calm Iran, “clearly denies eligibility for the visa waiver program to individuals who have traveled to a country that is ‘designated by the Secretary of State’” as a top global sponsor of terrorism, they wrote.
The lawmakers maintain that “there is no legitimate justification to create a special exemption for Iran from an anti-terrorism an security law that was specifically designed to include Iran,” they wrote. “Iran does not get to veto U.S. security measures.”
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) independently sent his own letter to Kerry on Tuesday, warning that the administration’s actions “would put U.S. citizens at risk.”
Responding to a comment by Zarif calling the new laws “absurd” and questioning whether “anybody in the West [has] been targeted by any Iranian nation,” Pompeo included a partial list of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks that have killed Americans.
At least 500 U.S. troops were killed by Iranian explosive devices in Iraq between 2005 and 2011, Pompeo wrote. Another 19 U.S. service members were “murdered and hundreds of others injured” in a 1996 terror attack in Saudi Arabia that was sponsored by Iran.
Iran also continues to imprison at least five American citizens.
“Waiving these visa requirements is not in our country’s national security interests,” Pompeo wrote. “The administration cannot allow individuals who are not American citizens, and who have connection to, or have traveled to designated state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran, to come to our country without doing something as simple as applying for a visa.”
Pompeo, in a statement issued after he sent the letter, called the administration’s actions “wrong and dangerous.”
“Terrorists including Zacarias Moussaoui, the twentieth 9/11 hijacker, and Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, both took advantage of the U.S. visa waiver program to enter our country,” he said.  “For Secretary Kerry to pander to Iran’s Foreign Minister, as it appears he did when he promised to waive U.S. visa restrictions regarding Iran, is wrong and dangerous. The largest state sponsor of terrorism shouldn’t get to dictate U.S. visa policy.”


DHS placing patriots on domestic terror watch lists in unlawful attempt to escalate violent interactions with police

SEE: below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

(NaturalNews) EXCLUSIVE: The Department of Homeland Security is intentionally placing local law enforcement in harm’s way by knowing (and falsely) entering the license plates of patriot-oriented radio hosts in the federal “terror watch” database. The aim of this tactic is to intentionally cause escalations of high-tension interactions between local police and pro-gun patriots, knowing that local law enforcement will respond to terror watch list hits with an escalated engagement posture involving firearms being drawn and pointed at the suspects.
The DHS — obviously at the command of an anti-American Obama regime that absolutely despises both patriots and police officers — is hoping that either the patriot suspect opens fire on police or that overreacting police open fire on the patriot. Either way, this serves the agenda of the Obama regime and creates a powerful narrative that mainstream media can use to call for nationwide gun confiscation.
How do we know all this? Because Pete Santilli, the host of Off the Hook on, was pulled over by a police officer in Cincinnatti just two days ago. His license plate was flagged by the federal “terror watch list,” causing this police officer to respond with a very aggressive, high alert stance with his primary firearm drawn and pointed at Pete and his passenger (the terrorism “suspects”).
This response by the police officer was entirely appropriate based on the intel he received from DHS. After all, thanks to open borders and insane refugee resettlement programs, the Obama regime is actively transplanting ISIS terrorists across the United States, readying them for being activated in a nationwide terror wave (see “Obama is a Sleeper Cell” to learn more). But what this police officer did not know is that he was being manipulated by DHS as part of a scheme that deliberately places police officers in harm’s way by causing them to collide with “patriots” who are fraudulently placed on the government’s terror watch list.
“Because I have political opponents that some of whom actually have access to the terror watch list,” Pete told Fox 19. “I believe that what he saw was my name and my vehicle associated with someone on the terror watch list. Somebody who had access to that terror watch list wanted to use it as political intimidation.”
Fortunately, both Pete Santilli and the police officer kept their cool. No shots were fired. Pete was arrested and then released less than a day later. Click here to see his “Free at last” video.
Most importantly, within 3-4 hours after his arrest, Pete was cleared of any link to domestic terrorism. He was told that the terror watch list was a “false hit.”

DHS says he’s a terrorist, then says he isn’t

So wait a minute.
How can someone’s license plate trigger a terror watch list “hit” and then, a few hours later, that same person is totally cleared by the DHS?
The answer is simple: DHS is intentionally placing patriots on the terror watch list to get them pulled over and hopefully shot to death by cops. Those who survive the interaction are then “cleared” by DHS, which deems to whole thing an “unfortunate mistake.”
If someone happens to get shot during all this, so much the better for the Obama regime and the anti-gun political regime, all of whom absolutely LOVE to see more acts of gun violence so that they can exploit them to call for abolition of the Second Amendment.

As patriot radio hosts are being added to terror watch lists, the Obama administration is shutting down FBI investigations into ISIS groups

Keep in mind that all this is taking place at the same time the Obama administration is actively shutting down FBI investigations into people with ties to ISIS.
In yet another example of political correctness trumping the safety and security of American citizens, a former Department of Homeland Security employee said the Obama administration shut down an investigation that could have prevented the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
Fox News correspondent Trace Gallagher reported that Philip Haney, the former DHS employee, was assigned to the department’s Intelligence Review Unit.
“His job was to investigate individuals with potential links to terrorism,” Gallagher told Fox News host Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File,” Thursday. “He noticed a trend of people with suspected radicalized ties coming into the United States.”
But a year later, the State Department and the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties shut the investigation down, claiming that tracking the individuals and groups was “problematic” because they were Islamic.
Among the 67 of Haney’s records that were deleted was “an investigation into an organization with ties to the mosque in Riverside [California] that San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook attended,” Gallagher reported.
Several years ago, after Haney complained of the shutdown of his investigation to Congress, DHS reportedly revoked his security clearance and pulled him from his duties.

The same DHS that shut down the FBI on ISIS is now flagging patriots as terrorists

So the same DHS that revoked the security clearance of an FBI investigator who might have been able to stop the San Bernardino attacks is actively placing patriot radio hosts on the terror watch list.
This is how absurd (and dangerous) the Obama regime has become: Patriotic Americans who love the Constitution are now labeled domestic terrorists. But actual ISIS terrorists who commit mass murder are given a total pass by the federal government. Obama even intervenes in FBI investigations, shutting them down and making sure ISIS is free to operate in America!
So now, at a whole new level, the Obama regime government is actively targeting people who exercise their free speech in defense of the Constitution… the same Constitution that President Obama is sworn to uphold and defend!
That the Obama regime has now turned to this extremely unethical tactic of intimidation and oppression — which places citizens and police officers in harm’s way to achieve a political outcome — is beyond unconscionable. It is criminal in its intent. This scheme, when honestly considered, is truly an act ofgovernment terrorism targeting American citizens. The Obama regime, in other words, is now committing state-sponsored terrorism against patriotic Americans, hoping to initiate violence that it can use to destroy the Second Amendment.

How to get more details on this shocking story about government terrorism against patriots

Pete Santilli will be talking about this in great detail on his show on TalkNetwork.comOff the Hook airs at 11am – 1pm Eastern, every weekday. You can listen in from any PC, Mac or mobile device.
I’ve also commented on what we know so far in my podcast.





Published on Dec 19, 2015
GREENVILLE, VIRGINIA — Schools in Augusta County, Virginia were closed because some parents were very upset about a 9th grade World Geography homework assignment at Riverheads High School that asked students to try writing in Arabic calligraphy, CNN reported.

The assignment, which is part of the school curriculum about world religions, asked the students to try writing the Islamic shahada in Arabic script that translates to 'There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.' The disgruntled parents claimed that the assignment was an attempt by the teacher to indoctrinate their kids into converting to Islam. Concerned parent Kimberly Herndon kept her son home from school and told WHSV: "I will not have my children sit under a woman who indoctrinates them with the Islam religion when I am a Christian."

According to CNN, the school upped security after a flood of emails and phone calls expressing outrage over the lesson and the teacher's audacity to educate the students about Islam. Although the world geography teacher is being thrown under the bus, there's also some people out there who support multicultural curriculum being taught in public schools. Netizens have responded to the Islamophobic fervor on both sides of the fence.

According to a statistic from, the 23 schools in Augusta County had about 10,755 students in the 2012-2013 school year. That's a lot of kids that get a three-day weekend!

Parents’ Outrage Over ‘Muslim Indoctrination’ Assignment Leads To Schools Closure

"I’m going to stand behind Christ," one parent said.
republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

A Virginia public school system had to shut down and cancel all after-school activities after controversy erupted because ninth-graders in a world geography class were required to copy the core Islamic statement of faith as part of their homework assignment.
“The Shahada” states: “There is no God by Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” The students were required to copy the words in Arabic, as part of a calligraphy assignment.
Parent Kimberly Herndon told WHSV she was “shocked that this was right here in our small town.” Her son, who attends Riverheads High School in Staunton, Virginia, has stayed home every day since the assignment, she said.
“I will not have my children sit under a woman who indoctrinates them with the Islam religion when I am a Christian, and I’m going to stand behind Christ,” she said.
Augusta County Public Schools decided to shut down Friday and halt all school activities and throughout the weekend after receiving telephone calls and email from both inside and outside the area, according to a statement from Augusta County School Superintendent Dr. Eric Bond. Law enforcement increased its presence at the schools as a precaution, the statement said.
Although “there has been no specific threat of harm,” Bond and Augusta County Sheriff Randall Fisher decided it would be best to close the schools.
“The communications have significantly increased in volume today and based on concerns regarding the tone and content of those communications, Sheriff Fisher and Dr. Bond mutually decided schools and school offices will be closed on Friday, December 18, 2015,” the statement said.
Bond said the assignment was to study the ornamental writing treasured in the Arab world. He said students are required to learn about world religions as part of the set curriculum under the state Board of Education and the Commonwealth’s Standards of Learning.
“The students were presented with the statement to demonstrate the complex artistry of the written language used in the Middle East, and were asked to attempt to copy it in order to give the students an idea of the artistic complexity of the calligraphy,” Bond said in a statement addressing the issue.
He defended the lesson, commenting that the statement was not translated for students and they were not asked to translate it, recite it or adopt it as their belief.
“Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief,” Bond wrote. “Each of the lessons attempts objectively to present world religions in a way that is interesting and interactive for students.”
At least one student, Laura Truxell, said the assignment made her uncomfortable.
“Why couldn’t we just learn to write ‘hello,’ ‘goodbye’…you know, normal words, not that,” she said.
Parents met Dec. 15 to discuss the controversy. Bond said teachers will use a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy in the future. While this type of lesson has been associated with the Common Core Curriculum, Virginia is one of four states that didn’t implement Common Core.

Augusta County Public Schools in Virginia are closed Friday, after parents objected to a ninth grade geography assignment that required students to copy the Shahada, an Islamic statement of faith that says, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Kimberly Herndon said she was “shocked that this was sent home, shocked that this was in the schools [and] shocked that this was right here in our small town,” reports Herndon added she felt her rights as a parent had been violated.
Augusta County Public Schools issued the following statement about the closure, which it noted was decided upon with the recommendation of law enforcement:
Augusta County Schools and all administrative offices will be closed Friday, December 18, 2015.
All after school activities for Thursday, December 17th are canceled.
Following parental objections to the World Geography curriculum and ensuing related media coverage, the school division began receiving voluminous phone calls and electronic mail locally and from outside the area. As a result of those communications, the Sheriff’s Office and the school division coordinated to increase police presence at Augusta County schools and to monitor those communications. The communications have significantly increased in volume today and based on concerns regarding the tone and content of those communications, Sheriff Fisher and Dr. Bond mutually decided schools and school offices will be closed on Friday, December 18, 2015. While there has been no specific threat of harm to students, schools and school offices will be closed Friday, December 18, 2015. All extra-curricular activities are likewise cancelled for tonight, Thursday, December 17, through the weekend. We regret having to take this action, but we are doing so based on the recommendations of law enforcement and the Augusta County School Board out of an abundance of caution.
Finally, the Augusta County School Board and Dr. Bond appreciate parents bringing concerns directly to our attention, and a constructive and respectful dialogue between school and community is always welcome. As we have emphasized, no lesson was designed to promote a religious viewpoint or change any student’s religious belief.  Although students will continue to learn about world religions as required by the state Board of Education and the Commonwealth’s Standards of Learning, a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future.
Herndon, whose son attends Riverheads High School, said the world geography assignment started out as one that focused on “the artistic complexity of calligraphy,” but believes it tried to indoctrinate her son into the Islamic religion.
“There was no trying about it,” she said. “The sheet that she [the teacher] gave out was pure indoctrinate in its origin.”
The school, however, states the lesson is in keeping with the Standards of Learning in Virginia. Interestingly, Virginia is one of the four states that did not adopt the Common Core State Standards.
Dr. Eric Bond – Augusta County School Superintendent – said, the lesson “attempts objectively to present world religions in a way that is interesting and interactive for students.”
“Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief,” he said.
Bond’s statement was as follows:
As a part of a high school world geography course and consistent with the Standards of Learning, when students study a particular geographic region, the Virginia Department of Education Curriculum Framework and Scope and Sequence for World Geography includes the region’s culture, language, economy, foods, predominant religions, and political climate. As a part of each regional unit, students are invited to participate in hands-on activities intended to give them a better objective understanding of the region and its culture (including its religions) and to allow for interactive learning.
When they study a geographic region, students study the religion and written language of the region. Consequently, students learn about Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam, among others. In one class, an assignment on religion and culture in the unit on the Middle East involved an Islamic statement of faith, written in Arabic. The students were presented with the statement to demonstrate the complex artistry of the written language used in the Middle East, and were asked to attempt to copy it in order to give the students an idea of the artistic complexity of the calligraphy. The statement presented as an example of the calligraphy was not translated for students, nor were students asked to translate it, recite it or otherwise adopt or pronounce it as a personal belief. They were simply asked to attempt to artistically render written Arabic in order to understand its artistic complexity. The students in the class will engage in similar calligraphy and drawing assignments when they study China, its unique written language and the yin and yang (a traditional symbol in Taoism and Confucianism).
Students learn material from the SOL Curriculum Framework in order to recognize cultural regions around the world by identifying characteristics of the “cultural landscape” such as dress, architecture, statues, monuments, music and art so the student can understand how cultural differences and similarities can link or divide regions. Students also learn about the cultures and the religious practices of the geographic regions they study. In one class during their study of the Middle East, students were taught about the modest dress adopted by many in the Islamic faith and were invited to try on a scarf as a part of an interactive lesson about the Islamic concept of modest dress. The scarf used in the activity was not an actual Islamic religious hijab. The students in the class can engage in similar assignments when they study China and Africa: student volunteers will be able to try on actual traditional Chinese clothing (chan song) and traditional African clothing (shuka). In addition, the students will be invited to observe and touch Buddhist prayer beads during the unit on China.
Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief. Each of the lessons attempts objectively to present world religions in a way that is interesting and interactive for students.
Student Laura Truxell said she was uncomfortable with the assignment as well, even if it was simply to study calligraphy. “Why couldn’t we just learn to write ‘hello,’ ‘goodbye’…you know, normal words, not that.”
Parents convened Tuesday night to discuss the situation. Herndon has not sent her son back to school since the assignment.
“I will not have my children sit under a woman who indoctrinates them with the Islam religion when I am a Christian, and I’m going to stand behind Christ,” Herndon said.