An athletic association consisting of private Christian and Catholic parochial schools in Texas is drawing national attention after refusing to grant an Islamic high school membership. From the New York Times:
With 500 students, increasing academic prestige and an established soccer team, Iman Academy SW, an Islamic school in Houston, was seeking membership in 2010 to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, a group that organizes competition among more than 200 schools in the state.
In addition to an application form, Iman Academy SW was given a questionnaire. Among the questions:
“Historically, there is nothing in the Koran that fully embraces Christianity or Judaism in the way a Christian and/or a Jew understands his religion. Why, then, are you interested in joining an association whose basic beliefs your religion condemns?”
“It is our understanding that the Koran tells you not to mix with (and even eliminate) the infidels. Christians and Jews fall into that category. Why do you wish to join an organization whose membership is in disagreement with your religious beliefs?”
“How does your school address certain Christian concepts? (i.e. celebrating Christmas)”
The private-schools association, known by the acronym Tapps, was established in the 1970s to coordinate sports among Christian schools. The organization drew national attention this week when it refused to reschedule a state semifinal boys basketball game for an Orthodox Jewish day school, which could not play at the scheduled time because its players observe the Sabbath.
Lawsuits and legislation are being considered to prevent this situation from happening again. Searching the TAPP website reveals that several Catholic schools are members of TAPP. Just like immigration, it shocks me that some Catholics today are willing to engage in this sort of xenophobia and denigration of the “other” when they themselves were victims of such prejudices just decades ago. Imagine the prophetic witness that the Catholic members of TAPP could offer by withdrawing support from the organization until the association changes its policies.