Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: A Letter to the Editor

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Letter to the Editor

I’ve been reading various opinions regarding the conflict between Anchorage School District sports schedules and various religious holidays. I agree with the stance that non-Christian religions are frequently not given the same deference as their Christian counterparts. However, I was disgusted that yet another important issue only came up because it has become an inconvenience to Anchorage sports parents.

Give me a break.

I had a limited roll in the 2006-2007 Budget Review Team for the Anchorage School District. I was amazed and horrified that the only proposed cuts in the budget which seemed to get the Community fired up were those to any programs with the word “sports” attached to it. We could live without Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten Aides and important staff services as long as little Johnny’s parents didn’t have to exert extra effort for Johnny to play football.

Mr. Mason’s Compass piece of July 30th discussed the hot topic of conflicting athletic and religious schedules. I especially appreciated his balanced approach and encouragement of civilized discourse.

I also believe that his recounting of the 1934 Detroit Tigers’ pennant race and the refusal of Hank Greenberg to play on Yom Kippur in deference to his faith already highlighted the very best solution to such a dilemma – the baseball game was not cancelled, Mr. Greenberg just stayed home.

According to “Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains,” there are over 1,500 recognized religions worldwide. U.S. Army Chaplains use the book to further this country’s tradition of religious diversity by ministering to soldiers based on their individual beliefs. However, the actual business of the Army is not coordinated while using a religious calendar – neither should the business of the Alaska School Districts, which are also government entities.

The US Constitution has generally been interpreted to regard faith as a private matter. While it may be my choice to honor my personal worship of God by refusing to participate in activities which could be the equivalent of “giving to Caesar,” I have no right to impose those requirements on others in a free society.

I tend to agree with the philosophy of a retired Anchorage judge who said that fairness is not always about trying to make people equally happy, more often it’s about making people equally unhappy. Justice wears a blindfold for a reason.


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