Public-school students urged to ‘try fasting’ during Ramadan

Rich Penkoski with his wife Amanda

Source: Leo Hohmann, by Leo Hohmann, June 2018

By now most of you have heard about the latest shocking case of a public school teaching kids about the religious merits of Islam, this time in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

The story originally appeared May 17 in the Christian Post. But there is more to this story that has yet to be made public.


Pastor Rich Penkoski says his daughter, a seventh-grader at Mountain Ridge Middle School, came home with an assignment that instructed her to write  the Islamic conversion prayer, called the Shahada, in Arabic, which the teacher passed off as a “calligraphy” assignment.

Many Christians, including Penkoski, believe the Shahada — “There is no god by Allah and Muhammad is his messenger” — is blasphemous. They don’t believe Allah is the “same god” worshiped in Christianity and Judaism. has learned that the same teacher, Katherine Hinson, who handed out the Shahada assignment as a supplemental lesson plan, also suggested students may want to fast for a day to help them identify with Muslims during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which started last Tuesday, May 15.

“It’s in the packet of information that was given to students, to ask your parents for permission to fast for 24 hours,” Penkoski, the father of six children, told me. “They wanted the students to experience what Muslims experience during Ramadan. They also wanted them to write the Shahada in Arabic after they explained what it was, and I said, ‘nah that’s not going to happen.’

“This teacher is so into the Islam thing that many of her students assumed she was Muslim.”

Try fasting for ramadan lesson plan WVA
This is part of the supplemental lesson plan handed out by a West Virginia teacher last week, suggesting students ‘trying fasting’ for Ramadan.

But Katherine Hinson is not Muslim. She is apparently a left-leaning Methodist and former Catholic.

“Imagine a student assignment that instructed students to write ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’ The ACLU would be all over that,” Penkoski said. “They tell them to fast for Ramadan and everyone [on the left] thinks it’s great.”

Penkoski said he spoke Monday with Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Thompson has agreed to take the case. That means a lawsuit could be forthcoming against the Berkeley County school district if the two sides cannot agree on a resolution.

Penkoski also has Marshall Wilson, a Republican member of the State House of Delegates, investigating how the suspect lesson plan ended up in the Berkeley County schools. Wilson met with school principal Ron Branch on Monday, May 21.

Wilson, a member of the education committee at the State House, told me he hopes to wrap up his fact-finding mission by Friday, after which he plans to prepare a white paper on exactly what schools are teaching with regard to world religions, complete with recommendations on how the curricula can be improved.

“I can tell you that based on what I’ve already seen, the teaching on Christianity was very skewed, false and short, and it basically focused on the divisions within Christianity,” Wilson said. “Whereas in Judaism it did not focus on the various schisms. Which leads to the point on Islam and it was an apologetic on Islam, vastly larger than the teaching on Christianity. I still want to find out, what was the process behind the selection of this lesson plan, and what was the source of the supplemental lesson plan?”

At least two other families have now joined Penkoski in voicing their concerns about the school district’s approach to teaching world religions.

The fact is, Islamic subject matter has been invading the nation’s public schools for more than a decade. The Islamization of public schools started shortly after 9/11 as educators, prompted by outreach from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Muslim groups, responded to calls for sensitivity training aimed at fomenting greater “understanding” of Muslims.

While these types of assignments are handed out by teachers in public schools across the U.S. every day, they are only rarely exposed because most parents don’t keep very close tabs on the daily scholastic workload of their children. They simply trust teachers and principals to take care of their child’s education.

But Penkoski is not one of those parents. He runs a ministry called Warriors for Christ and has recently launched a website at SocialCross.orgwhich he hopes will be the new Christian alternative to Facebook.

“I feel called to wake up the church. Stop letting this into our schools. Christians don’t know their theology,” he said. “They just don’t know, and they just sit on their hands. And so we’re trying to change that. We want parents to wake up and take an interest in what their children are being taught.

“As long as their kids aren’t failing and as long as the kids aren’t bothering their parents they just don’t care,” Penkoski said. “A lot of parents still have the idea that as long as my kids are fed and clothed and happy, I’ve done my job and I don’t need to do anything else.”

Those days are gone, Penkoski said, as children are the primary target of the progressive Marxist left.

He said public-school teachers have no place teaching religion, and that public schools are the least qualified to teach about religion.

“They didn’t assign a writing assignment in Judaism in calligraphy, or Christianity, only Islam,” he said.

He said all of the faith aspects of Christianity and Judaism were stripped from the lesson plan by the teacher, Hinson.

According to West Virginia’s state education standards, students must acquire a basic knowledge of the five most common religions of the world – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hindu. But in many cases, school systems across the U.S. have been caught overloading students with teachings about Islam while skimping on the religious tenets of the other four faiths.

That’s what Penkoski says happened at his daughter’s middle school.

“They even gave the kids diagrams showing them how to pray as a Muslim. Four pages were given for Christianity and the Islamic one is 30 pages,” he said.

Lessons from the McGraw-Hill textbook “Discovering Our Path: History of the World,” provided extensive teachings on Christianity, including the birth of Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, the Last Supper, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

“But all that was left out,” by the teacher, Penkoski said.

“This is why I don’t believe public-school teachers should be the ones instructing kids on religious beliefs,” he said.

Brenda Arthur, the state chapter president of ACT For America, said Penkoski is the first parent in West Virginia to balk at the Islamic lesson plans being inserted into curricula.

“Most parents aren’t watching. They treat school like a babysitting service,” Arthur said.

For the first time in 83 years, Republicans in 2015 gained control of the West Virginia legislature, the Governor’s mansion, the secretary of state’s office and the attorney general’s office, but conservative voters have seen very little return on their votes in the way of conservative change, she said. It’s time for Republicans to start paying attention and fight for conservative causes, including change in the liberal education establishment.

“Our refugee bill, calling for a moratorium, it was Republicans who have blocked it,” she said.

Republicans also blocked a bill calling for American Law for American Courts, a proposal adopted in 10 states which would prohibit judges from applying any foreign legal principles, including Sharia.

Arthur said pastors have also been timid about standing against the spread of Islam in the schools and other public institutions.

“I’m happy to meet a father, who is also a pastor, who is willing to stand up,” she said. “People need to be informed but you have to get past all these barriers first. In the West, Islam is very good about presenting itself as a persecuted minority.

“This father is a real warrior. He is not laying down and taking this. If he hadn’t spotted it, no other parent would have known about it and come forward.”

Some might ask, why doesn’t the pastor pull his kids out of the public schools? But he said he presented that as an option to his daughters, who chose to stay and make a difference.

“My daughters decided they wanted to stay in the school to protect other students. If not for them nobody would know about this. We don’t run from persecution,” Penkoski said.  “They feel they can reach other kids still, and feel they can share Christ with them. But more than one parent has to get involved in this. It can’t be just me. Other parents need to be paying attention.”

“I want this to stop,” Penkoski said. “Not only in West Virginia but across the country.

“If you’re going to be teaching the five pillars of Islam and the shahada then you need to be teaching about our faith, too. Where are all the atheists on this? Where is the Freedom from Religion Foundation? This story has been out in the news enough now where they should have heard about it.”

He said all of the Quranic verses calling for killing Jews and fighting the Christians, or Islam’s dubious treatment of women, are left out of the lesson plans.

“It’s not about peace. It is a religion of subjugation. If you are going to teach the religion, teach it properly,” Penkoski said. “Honor killings, beheadings of Christians in  the Middle East. This is going on today. It’s not just an element of history. The schools don’t show that part. They want to glamorize Islam for some reason.”