NEW YORK (Dec. 21)
The American Jewish Congress today criticized the recent statements issued by the Roman Catholic Bishops of America and the Protestant National Council of Churches for advocating the injection of more direct religious instruction and content into public education “as constituting a serious threat to the traditional American principle of separation of church and state.”
A resolution, unanimously adopted today by 250 leaders attending the joint administration and executive committees year-end meeting at the Stephen Wise Congress House, criticized the Catholic Bishops for being “primarily concerned with security a share of tax-raised funds for parochial school purposes” and the Protestant group, though expressing adherence to the principle of church-state separation, “as nevertheless striving to delimit its interpretation so as to permit the utilization of the time, premises or curriculum of the public school system for religious instruction or indoctrination.”
“The invocation of state aid on behalf of religion,” the resolution warned, “will inevitably force citizens to divide along religious lines in controversy over either the amount of financial assistance various groups should receive from tax-raised funds or whose religion is to be taught in the public schools. In such a controversy, either religion or freedom, and generally both, are ultimate casualties.”
While affirming the right of any religious group to maintain the its own educational institutions, the American Jewish Congress insists in its resolution that the integrity of the public school system must be maintained against any sectarian encroachment. The resolution concluded with a plea to “all Americans who cherish religion and Liberia alike to unite in maintaining that principle inviolate.”
In a second resolution, the A. J. C. leaders assailed the recent Prague trials “as dispelling nay lingering doubts that the countries within the Soviet orbit are now actively exploiting anti-Semitism as an instrument of national policy.” The resolution charged that the weapon of anti-Semitism is being wielded “to provide a scapegoat for economic distress, to curry the favor of anti-Semitic elements in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, to herald a new alliance with the enemies of Israel.”
But, the resolution added, “those purposes are less important than the consequences of this resort to anti-Semitism. There can be little doubt that Jews in the Com in form lands will now become the special victims of mounting suspicion and discrimination. The activities of Jewish institutions will be even more rigidly circumscribed and any hope of emigration to Israel has probably been wholly.