No Muslim Schools Allowed?

by Dan Quinn

It turns out that a prominent association of private secular and religious schools in Texas welcomes many religious institutions as members — but not, apparently, Islamic private schools. A story in the San Antonio Express-News over the weekend reports that the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) denied membership to one Islamic school two months ago and to two Islamic schools in 2004.

As a private organization, of course, TAPPS is free to decide which schools it wants as members. The Express-News reports that many of the organization’s members are Christian schools, a couple are Jewish and others are secular. But it seems that Muslims need not apply.

And why not? TAPPS officials were reluctant to talk to the Express-News about their decisions regarding the Islamic schools seeking membership. One responded to a reporter’s queries with something akin to “none of your business.”

Not all TAPPS members, to their credit, are comfortable with making membership decisions based on religion. Some have decided to retain their membership while working to change the organization from within.

But it’s hard not to be saddened by yet another example of the growing prejudice against some Americans simply because of their religion. After all, it wasn’t too long ago in America that Catholic and Jewish individuals and institutions were regularly denied membership in some organizations.

It would be a good thing if elected public officials didn’t also promote this kind of prejudice, but too many in Texas — including some members of the State Board of Education — shamelessly do. And various pressure groups, like Texas Eagle Forum, have been outspoken in promoting anti-Muslim bigotry and hysteria. Lost on all of them, apparently, is the irony that they claim to support religious freedom. That claim is becoming harder and harder to believe.

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