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Parents in San Francisco Area Oppose Religion in Public Schools

Demands for church-state separation have resulted in discontinuance of daily prayers at a public elementary school in the San Francisco area. At the same time, boards of education at two schools received objections to the presentation of Nativity pageants during the last Christmas season, it was reported here today.

The board of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District followed the advice of its legal adviser in voting to stop prayer recitations in some primary grades of the Pleasant Hill School. A parent and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California raised the issue. Simultaneously, they contended that the manner in which a Christmas story was given in assembly and to the PTA by three sixth grade classes turned it into religious teaching and indoctrination rather than a secular presentation. Included were extensive readings from the Bible, particularly the New Testament, and traditional carols.

A similar case arose at the Ross Grammar School. There Mrs. Ann Diamond, an attorney and wife of a physician, said she was “shocked” when she witnessed a Nativity pageant presented by students for parents. “The religion it reflected was not the religion of my children,” she said, “it confused them, and they brought their confusion into our home. It was an experience outside their faith.” Mrs. Diamond’s was only one of several protests against presentation of the Nativity play in the Ross public schools.

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