Sunday, March 4, 2012

Texas High School Athletic Association for Private Schools Won’t Accommodate

War on Religion Has Another Casualty – But This Time Don’t Expect Outrage from Mr. Santorum or Mr. Romney or Mr. Gingrich

[Update:  The game was rescheduled.  Beren Academy lost, as did the petty dictators of the group that controls private school athletics in Texas.]

Republicans say giving employers the right to deny health care coverage for anything that morally offends the employer is not about eliminating family planning services and products from employer sponsored health care plans (it is, but that’s another story).  It is, according to its sponsors accommodating religious freedom.  See the right to deny needed health care services to others because it violates your tenets is what religious freedom is all about.

Of course when the situation involves a different religion, then the outraged are a lot less outraged.  Case in point is the private school organization that controls high school athletics in Texas.  It seems they will not accommodate a member school whose religion recognizes the Sabbath on Friday night to Saturday night.

A Texas high school athletic association is facing pressure from the mayor of Houston and criticism from a former N.B.A. coach over its handling of an Orthodox Jewish day school that is no longer scheduled to play its state semifinal boys basketball game because the players observe the Sabbath.

Yes, for some reason this policy is drawing criticism.  Here’s the problem.

The school, the Robert M. Beren Academy in Houston, won its regional championship last weekend to advance to the state semifinals in Dallas on Friday. The game against the Covenant School of Dallas is scheduled for 9 p.m. Beren Academy appealed to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, or Tapps, the group that organizes the tournament, to have the time of the game changed. Tapps denied the appeal.

Of course this doesn’t affect every religion.   They have a very specific provision protecting the religions that regard Sunday at the Sabbath.

Mayor Annise D. Parker of Houston said she was “very disappointed” about the decision, in a letter to the association’s director Tuesday.

“It is also my understanding that Tapps teams are not allowed to play any sports on Sundays,” Parker wrote. “Which I presume is out of respect for the Christian Sabbath.”

The organization posted a statement on its Web site on Wednesday that said it was adhering to its bylaws, which were written in the late 1970’s, when “the member schools at that time all recognized Sunday as the day of worship.”

Of course the Association in control is playing the “slippery slope” card,

Edd Burleson, the director of Tapps, said Monday that schedule changes in the past have created problems for other schools. “If we solve one problem, we create another problem,” he said.

you  know, you accommodate Jewish kids and next thing you know Muslims will think their religion is just as important as the others.  Everybody else is trying to be accommodating,

Three of the other schools that would be directly affected by a schedule change have agreed to reschedule, said Samantha Steinberg, director of admissions and marketing at Beren Academy. She added that Beren Academy agreed to pick up costs related to changing the time of the game.

“There has been a nationwide outpouring of donations and support,” Steinberg said. “Hundreds of letters have come in from people of all denominations.”

Representatives of the Covenant School, the team that Beren Academy was scheduled to play Friday evening, said they were open to rescheduling.

But the rational  people in this case are dealing with a group of petty officials, the kind we have all met who see any common sense solution as a threat to them.  But here’s a warning for them, just wait till the religious fanatics in the Republican party here about this attack on religious freedom.  

Okay, they have a long wait.

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