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Jewish Congress Protests Deferment of Senate Hearings on Religion

The American Jewish Congress expressed its “dismay” today at the “last-minute decision” of the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights to postpone indefinitely hearings on the present state of religious freedom in America that were scheduled to open tomorrow in Washington.

Senator Thomas C. Hennings, chairman of the subcommittee, explained that the postponement had been ordered to give members more time in which to analyze the answers to questionnaires distributed to religious groups. The subcommittee promised to advise prospective witnesses of a new hearing date.

In a telegram to Senator Hennings, Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the American Jewish Congress, asserted that “the announced postponement of this hearing serves to confirm our information that your committee has been subjected to pressure by sectarian groups to cancel or indefinitely postpone the hearings on freedom of religion.

“American democracy,” Dr. Goldstein continued, “is based on the assumption that the people can be trusted in a discussion of all public issues and your committee has properly proceeded to act on this basis. It is unthinkable therefore that the committee should now reverse its course and yield to pressures from whatever source to suppress the open consideration of so fundamental a question as religious liberty.”

The Jewish community, Dr. Goldstein pointed out, had already endorsed the purpose of the hearings and its religious spokesmen had been invited to testify. “From the outset,” he added, “we had applauded the proposed hearings as a means of stimulating healthy public discussion in the American community. We still regard this as a salutary and desirable aim. As a rabbi and as president of the American Jewish Congress, I urge that your committee proceed as expeditiously as possible to reschedule the planned hearings on religious liberty.”

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