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TX Sports League Denied Membership to Muslim School After Controversial Probe

"Why...are you interested in joining an association whose basic beliefs your religion condemns?"

The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) has found itself gaining some pretty unfavorable media coverage over the past week. As you'll recall, the private school association recently had a highly-publicized battle with The Robert M. Beren Academy.

Officials originally refused to move the time of a championship basketball game scheduled on the Sabbath, which would have made it impossible for Jewish students to play (they inevitably caved to public and legal pressure and did, indeed, make an exception).

Now, TAPPS is catching attention for some questions it asked Iman Academy SW, an Islamic school in Houston. In 2010, TAPPS, which oversees competitions among 200 schools in the state of Texas, had an interesting response to the school's interest in joining the league. In a move that, when added to the recent flap over the Jewish Sabbath create some pause, the Islamic school was asked some curious questions.

"Members of the TAPPS executive board have little knowledge of Islam and the Koran, so it is possible that some of the passages taken from the Koran have been taken out of context," the questionnaire read. "If so, please help them understand."

Here are some of the questions that were subsequently asked of the school:

“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)”

“When was the Bible allegedly polluted? Does the Koran actually state that the Bible is polluted?”

“What is your attitude about the spread of Islam in America? What are the goals of your school in this regard?”

Another question -- which was, perhaps nationally relevant at the time, but controversial nonetheless -- asked for school administrators' opinions about the proposed Ground Zero mosque.

In the end, despite the charged nature of the questions, the school did fill out the application and the associated questions. TAPPS inevitably denied membership to Iman Academy SW and the school decided not to refute the decision. According to The New York Times, at least two other Islamic schools were asked to fill out similar questionnaires (the other schools reportedly refused to do so).

"We didn’t see how it had anything to do with Tapps or our kids and sports," said Cindy Steffens, an administrator with Iman Academy SW. "We didn’t want to bring any negative attention to the school. We know our kids are just as American as their kids. We just wanted to play ball."

TAPPS reportedly also circulated a survey to schools back in 2010 that asked whether it was "in the best interest of Tapps to accept Islamic schools for membership." At least one school administrator has gone on record to say that this action made him very uncomfortable (63 percent of respondents reportedly said it was not in the league's best interest, with only 37 percent claiming that including Muslim schools would be a positive action).

(H/T: Houston Press)

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