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… Read More
Threats to religious freedom -- and the constitutional protections for that freedom -- were evident in much of the far right's political rhetoric in 2010. Some right-wing politicians even sought to turn religion and government into enemies by using faith as a political weapon. You can read more of our review of what the far right had to say in 2010 here and here. “Our country was founded on religious principles … and our students will know that. . . . I think the [Founding Fathers] fully intended that our government would not separate church and state.” -- Gail Lowe, chair of the Texas State Board of Education, talking about new social studies curriculum standards for public schools, North Texas Daily, September 20, 2010 “The exact phrase 'separation of church and state' came out of Adolf Hitler's mouth. That's where it comes from. So next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of church and state, ask them why they're Nazis.” -- Glen Urquhart, Republican congressional candidate from Delaware, Washington Post, April 2010 “WE [sic] elected a house [sic] with Christian, conservative values. We now want a true Christian, conservative running…… Read More
We're glad to see that many Virginia Baptists remain committed to their denomination's traditional defense of separation of church and state. Associated Baptist Press reports that messengers to the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) last week "adopted a resolution decrying versions of American history that minimize or deny the role of church-state separation." From the ABP article: Virginia Baptists should “regard it as a threat to the flourishing of religious liberty when any version of our nation’s history minimizes or denies the historical basis” of church-state separation, the resolution says. It also says Virginia Baptists should “be diligent in resisting and correcting any such mistaken version of our history.” Supporters of the resolution expressed concerns about how Texas State Board of Education's religious-right bloc rewrote history and other social studies curriculum standards earlier this year. Rob James, a retired religion professor at the University of Richmond who chairs the BGAV's religious-liberty committee, had this to say:…… Read More
A national survey from the Public Religion Research Institute has encouraging news for supporters of religious liberty. According to the survey, a large majority of registered voters either "completely agree" (36 percent) or "mostly agree" (31 percent) that "we must maintain a strict separation of church and state" in America. Those results, from a national survey conducted Sept. 1-14, are mostly in line with what a Texas Freedom Network Education survey found in May. According to our survey, 51 percent of likely voters in Texas "strongly agree" that "separation of church and state is a key principle of our Constitution." Another 17 percent said they "somewhat agree." We noted other interesting findings from the Public Religion Research Institute's "American Values Survey":…… Read More
Some critics have continually and absurdly attacked President Obama for supposedly not calling out the murderers behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, for supposedly not talking about his Christian faith (if, indeed, they even believe he’s a Christian) and for supposedly being too pro-Muslim (whatever that means). So we thought this response by President Obama to a question at his press conference today was particularly interesting. Regardless of whether one supports or opposes the president’s public policies, surely we can all agree that his response here reveals how our nation is strengthened by respecting religious freedom for people of all faiths. Can’t we? President Obama (from the transcript here):
“One of the things that I most admired about President Bush was after 9/11, him being crystal-clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam. We were at war with terrorists and murderers who had perverted Islam, had stolen its banner to carry out their outrageous acts. And I was so proud of the country rallying around that idea, that notion that we are not going to be divided by religion; we’re not going to be divided by ethnicity. We are all Americans. We stand together against… Read More