Washington Protestants Seek Delay of Decision on Religion in Schools

A Protestant church group here today asked seven Washington area school boards to delay until March any decision on an order prohibiting public school religious observances. A request for such a ban was made earlier this month to the school boards of Washington and the surrounding Maryland communities by the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington.

The Rev. Dr. Charles D. Kean, president of the Council of Churches of the national capital areas, asked for the delay so that the Council may have time to study the issue and recommend its own policies “which may be presented as the mind of the Protestant community.” The churchman said the Council needs at least until March for a thorough study before issuing its own recommendations.

Meanwhile, the District Federation of Women’s Clubs yesterday adopted a resolution opposing a proposed ban on religious observances in the public schools. The women’s group asserted that barring observances of religious holidays, all mention of religion, use of the Bible and prayers in the school system would “place the school administrators and parents in the position of seeming to support atheistic ideas.”

Today, Congressman James Delaney, New York Democrat, introduced a bill that would provide Federal aid for private as well as public school children. Describing his bill as a “GI bill for junior,” he said the measure would provide grants directly to the parents of private and parochial school students rather than go directly to the schools. In the case of public school children, the funds would be allocated directly to the local school agency or the political subdivision in which the school is located. It was Congressman Delaney’s vote in the last session of Congress which caused the House Rules Committee to shelve legislation for Federal aid to public schools. He voted in favor of extending Federal aid to private and parochial schools.

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