N.c.r.a.c., Synagogue Council Announce Stand on Religion in Schools

The Synagogue Council of America and the National, Community Relations Advisory Council jointly announced today the publication of a compilation of their positions on religion and the public school. At the same time they warned that unwise or ill-timed actions in regard to religious intrusions on public schools “may intensify problems without producing any positive results.”

The publication is a codification of the declarations of principle and statements of position jointly adopted by the two bodies over the past ten years. Opposition is expressed in the codification to the following:

Teaching in the public school of “moral and spiritual” values, “objective” or “factual” teaching about religion, or teaching of a “common core” of religious faith; Use of public school premises for religious purposes; Religious practices or observances, including joint religious observances (Christmas-Chanukah, Easter-Passover) in the public schools.

Also prayer reading or recitation, Bible reading, distribution of Bibles or tracts, hymn singing, wearing of clerical garb by teachers, granting of credit for religious studies, taking of religious census of pupils, holding of public school classes in religious buildings; released time and dismissed time practices; government aid to religiously-controlled schools.

Regarding the closing of public schools on Jewish High Holy Days, the Synagogue Council and NCRAC counsel against requesting that this be done; noting that it is a decision to be made by the school authorities. They recommend that it not be opposed if school authorities desire to do so. They insist that Jewish teachers should not be penalized for absence on such holidays.

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