An athletic association of private and parochial schools in Texas declined membership to a Muslim school after asking it to fill out a questionnaire featuring probing questions about the school’s views “about the spread of Islam in America” and its “goals in this regard,” as well as other incendiary questions about Islamic religion. The questionnaire is the latest issue to arise for the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (Tapps), which was founded in the 1970s as an athletic organization of private Christian schools and now has more than 200 members, including private Jewish schools.
Tapps drew national attention last week when it declined to reschedule a game in its state boys’ basketball tournament for an Orthodox Jewish school, whose players could not play in the Saturday afternoon game because its players celebrate the Sabbath. The game was ultimately rescheduled, but the attention raised awareness about the organization’s past practices regarding Muslim schools that applied for membership, including Houston’s Iman Academy SW, which received a questionnaire along with its membership application that included the following questions, the New York Times reports:
“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 questionnaire sent to Iman Academy SW, one of three Muslim schools to receive it, also asked, “When was the Bible allegedly polluted? Does the Koran actually state that the Bible is polluted?” Unlike the other two schools, Iman Academy responded to the questionnaire but was denied membership to Tapps. “We didn’t see how it had anything to do with Tapps or our kids and sports,” Cindy Steffens, an administrator with Iman Academy SW, told the Times.
In addition to the questionnaire, Tapps also surveyed its member schools about the inclusion of Muslim schools and found that 63 percent of the 83 respondents opposed their membership. Ten schools said they would leave Tapps if the Islamic schools were allowed. Keystone School, a multi-denominational private school in San Antonio, was the only school that threatened to leave Tapps if Iman Academy was denied membership, but has since decided to stay to try to “effect change in the situation.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called on Tapps to change its policy, while state Sen. Randy Ellis (D) is considering taking legislative action to prevent similar situations in the future.