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Reform Jewish Groups Condemn Teaching Religion in Public Schools

An emerging “public-school religion” is watering down genuine religious differences and threatening the American tradition of separation of Church and State, it was charged today by several Jewish groups. These views were set forth in a study released by the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism.

Pointing out that public anxiety about communism, juvenile delinquency, sputniks, and hydrogen bombs has led to powerful pressures to bring “religious values” into the public schools, the Commission says that the mixing of religion into public education “demeans religion by reducing its beauty, significance and inner spirit to a mere mechanical recitation of empty ritual. It demeans the public school by making it an acquiescent tool of the churches and, in some communities, a cockpit of inter-religious squabbling.”

The Commission on Social Action is comprised of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the national association of Reform synagogues, as well as the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the national federations of Reform Jewish sisterhoods, men’s clubs, and youth groups. Challenging such programs as Bible-reading and prayer in the public schools the organizations contend that the proper place for religious education is the home, the church, and the synagogues “and not the public school.”

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