The Recreation Professional, Religion & Politics
Du, Bob, Greenspoon, Leonard J., Parks & Recreation
As is well known, parks and recreation professionals have to wear a number of hats. From sports directors to referees, from amateur chefs to on-the-spot psychologists, most individuals who select this profession relish the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of activities.
In the process, they often touch on the emotional lives of those with whom they come into contact. Part of the emotional or effective dimension of most individuals includes an element of what we generally understand to be religion. Those involved in public or government-supported activities generally stay clear of any action that might conflict with the well-known Constitutional principle of separation of church and state. And rightly so! With all of the problems facing the busy recreation professional, the last thing he or she needs is to become embroiled in the two very areas where emotions tend to run highest--religion and politics.
Nonetheless, as recent events have shown, even the simplest, or seemingly simplest decision can arouse all sorts of reactions, bringing in religion and threatening the very fabric of otherwise close-knit communities. The case which we highlight below is becoming typical of what is occurring with increasing frequency throughout the country, not just in the South and not just in smaller towns and cities. We raise many questions, but offer relatively few solutions. Since legal and cultural norms differ from state to state, those are both worked out on the local level. Like it or not, recreation professionals may well be called upon to make judgments on what is or is not a religious group or a religious practice, or (even more controversial) whether seemingly innocuous activities are somehow related to satanism.
On August 16, 1990, the following notice appeared in the Toccoa (GA) Record
The recreation department will sponsor a Yoga class that
will meet on Monday nights for six weeks from 6-7:30
p.m. Cost will be $40 and the instructor will be Carolyn
Davis, author of two books on Yoga. The class will teach
participants how to relax, control stress, breathing awareness,
stretching, facial exercise and diet tips. Pre-registration
Sandwiched between announcements of a cat show and a karate tournament, and registration deadlines for sports and cheerleading, this notice appears to be as straightforward and non-controversial as the …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Recreation Professional, Religion & Politics. Contributors: Du, Bob - Author, Greenspoon, Leonard J. - Author. Magazine title: Parks & Recreation. Volume: 28. Issue: 7 Publication date: July 1993. Page number: 66+. © 2009 National Recreation and Park Association. COPYRIGHT 1993 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.