Daytona parent & primarily Volusia County Republican elders upset with Islam in textbook

The Sunday Conversation / Headline Surfer

Controversy over Islam in World History book in Volusia Coiunty, FL / Headline Surfer®Headline Surfer® videos by Henry Frederick / The Sunday Conversation (Online Newsmaker Show): Click the videos to watch the 24/7 inernet newspaper's exclusive interview with Greg Gimbert of greater Daytona Beach, among the parents actively involved in protesting a high high school textbook that he and others insist places too much emphasis on the Islam religion and culture in a post 9/11 world.

DAYTONA BEACH -- Greg Gimbert of Daytona Beach, father of an elementary school-age boy and a political activist, said he opposes the teaching of Islam in a high school textbook, "World History" that contains a 32-page chapter on "Muslim Civilizations," but none on other religions, including his preference for Christianity.

"If they're going to have it for one then they have to have it for all," Gimbert told Headline Surfer® in an exclusive interview for "The Sunday Conversation," the 24/7 internet newspaper's online newsmaker show.

Headline Surfer® interviewed Gimbert late Tuesday night at the Starlite Diner in Daytona Beach with the controversial book in hand he borrowed from a teacher at Seabreeze High School. You can click the three video segments for the substance of the one-on-one interview.

Facebook page on protesting Islam section of world history book / Headline Surfer®Headline Surfer graphic / At left is a snapshot of the Facebook "Protst Rally" Against the Pillars of Islam" communication posted by Volusia Conty GOP Chaireman Tonty Ledbetter. Among those listed as going are Headline Surfer's publisher at the top, Greg Gimbert, the parent interviewed for the 24/7 internet newspaper's "The Sunday Conversation," Ledbetter and others.

Earlier that afternoon, Gimbert and two dozen other fundamentalist Christians took part in a protest outside the Volusia County School District Offices in DeLand. 

The demonstration to have the book removed from the classrooms was spearheaded by elders of the Volusia County Republican Party, namely its chairman, Tony Ledbetter, a 73-year-old Ormond Beach resident and 9/12er.

Half a dozen pro-Islam supporters, including an "imam" (term recognizing a Muslim theologian) from Kissimmee, were there as well.

A planned meeting of the School Board was called off minutes before the GOP-led protest with district spokeswoman Nancy Wait informing Headline Surfer® and other media outlets that a threat was called in, which she declined to elaborate on, except to say the U.S. Justice Department was involved.

After 20 minutes or so of pandering to the TV cameras, both camps left with the issue still unresolved.

Ledbetter, a fundamentalist Christian, has been unorthodox in the top post of the county GOP since taking over for Stanley Escudero after three Republicans were elected to the County Council in the November 202 elections -- County Chair Jason Davis, Pat Patterson representing DeLand, and Deborah Denys greater New Smyrna Beach.

While Escudero, a retired foreign ambassador, was more inclined to work behind the scenes as a strategist and money solicitor for the party's candidates.

Ledbetter's style has been is in your face, though, he's often called on others within the ranks for assistance like Port Orange's Ted Noftall, who is not afraid to take to the podium at municipal government meetings and challenge the status quo.

This time around, Ledbetter turned to Rick Sarmiento, a self-described "Patriot" and "full-time activist" from Lake County. who advocated that students bring home their textbooks so their parents could "rip out" the 32-page section on Islam.

Sarmiento has already succeeded in giving Ledbetter a national forum through FOX and Friends with a one-on-one interview with Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Lake County "Patrior Rick Sarmiento advocated tearing out a section on Islam in  textbook / Headline Sufer®Headline Surfer graphic / Rick Sarmiento, a Lake County resident and self-described "Patriot" advocated on his Facebook page that willing students in the Volusia County School District's world history classes assignd the textbook that GOP fundamentalist Christians find offensive, bring home and "tear out the entire chapter in question," referring to the 32-page section on Islam. Then return to school the following day with the altered textbook "problem solved."

Ledbetter and Sarmiento began their movement on Facebook a week before the scheduled School Board meeting in making the case against Islam, insisting the school district was indoctrinating students into following the edicts of Sharia Law. 

For Greg Gimbert, though, a regular attendee of Volusia 9/12 meetings who defines himself as a "Green Libertarian," all that matters to him is that his child and other children are exposed to all of the major world religions equally and succinctly, or not all.

"The prostituting of religion for political gain is not right, but this textbook is the most obvious example of Islamic creep into the fabric of our lives while we're all arguing over politics," Gimbert insisted.

"The prostituting of religion for political gain is not right, but this textbook is the most obvious example of Islamic creep into the fabric of our lives while we're all arguing over politics," Gimbert insisted.

On its face, the section devoted to Islam appears bloated in comparison to half-page summaries for Christianity and Buddhism, but as Volusia County district spokeswoman Nancy Wait has pointed out, Judeo-Christian references are spread out through the course of the 1,000-plus page hardcover book approved by the Florida Department of Education as curriculum for high school sophomores.

Wait reiterated Superintendent Margaret Smith's stance that Christianity has been emphasized to the current crop of high school students in the district when they were in middle school.

Editor's Noe: Headline Surfer® has video interviews with stakeholders in both religions that are at odds in this debate in upcoming stories this week. And the 24/7 internet newspaper will have updates on the next meeting of the school board and on grassroots efforts by Ledbetter on the GOP's next move.

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.