Stress on Religion Eliminated from Revised School Credo in New York

The Board of Education here today made public the text of a revised statement of moral and spiritual values in the city schools, taking into consideration the criticism that the original statement violated the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state by bringing religious values into teaching.

The original statement, which was opposed by Jewish and Protestant religious leaders, but commended by the Roman Catholic Church, was also criticized by the United Parents Association on the ground that it would lead to divisive religious controversy in the classroom, and that it failed to respect the rights of those who have no religion.

The new statement contains 20 double-spaced typewritten pages-which is 11 more pages than the first version had. The bulk of the revised statement takes up ways in which the schools can “acknowledge the influence of religion and religious ideals upon Western civilization, upon America’s social and political institutions and ideals, and upon the development of moral and spiritual values. Some of the original passages and the version appearing in the revised report are these:

Original: “The public schools must reinforce the program of the home and church in strengthening belief in God.” Revised: “Religious education and training are not functions of state-supported schools. It is, however, the function of the schools to be conscious of the various motivations that influence human behavior and to utilize those means and devices suitable at various age levels to support the efforts of the home and church in building good character in our children.”

Original: “The public schools encourage the belief in God.” Revised: “The teachers in the public schools know that while most pupils and their parents are affiliated with some church or synagogue, some are not; indeed they also know that there are some children in the public schools whose parents give their allegiance to no religion.”

Original: “The public schools identify God as the ultimate source of natural and moral law.” Revised: “This statement of policy recognizes that most children come to school with a belief in God, and that the schools must not teach for or against the religious beliefs or disbeliefs of any group.”

Original: “It is an incontrovertible fact that as a rule the American teacher is religious in character, in action and in belief.” Revised: “Teachers as a group reflect the same religious pluralism as the pupils they teach. The teachers may not use his position in the school to become a missionary for his own religious beliefs. The attitude of the school and teachers toward religion, religious ideals and practices should be one of friendliness.”

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