The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools acted prudently when it reversed — under legal threat and immense public pressure — a decision that would have forced a team from an Orthodox Jewish school in Houston to choose between forfeiting a spot in the TAPPS championship basketball tournament and observing the Jewish Sabbath.
The team from the Robert M. Beren Academy lost in the championship game on March 3. The incident, which gained national attention, was a positive learning experience about principle and religious tolerance.
“We have students from a large number of ethnic and religious backgrounds,” reads a statement about the Beren episode on the TAPPS website. “Our state is becoming more diverse. Because of that, we are reaching out to leaders around the state. We want to listen, to hear their concerns and most of all, to hear their ideas.”
Here’s one. TAPPS should revisit its decision to exclude a Muslim school from the organization.
When Houston’s Iman Academy sought to join TAPPS in 2010, it duly received a membership application. The New York Times reported that it also received a questionnaire inquiring, among other things, “Why do you wish to join an organization whose membership is in disagreement with your religious beliefs?” and, “What is your attitude about the spread of Islam in America?”
An Iman Academy administrator says the school did its best to answer the questions “in an inclusive manner.” TAPPS denied the application. At least two other Islamic schools that sought TAPPS membership also received the questionnaire but declined to respond.
The TAPPS constitution notes that the organization’s purpose is “to foster a spirit of fair play, good fellowship, true sportsmanship and wholesome competition for boys and girls.” No student in Texas should be excluded from such competition simply on the basis of his or her religion.