Jewish Congress Asks Halt of Bible Reading in New York Schools

The American Jewish Congress today called on the New York City Board of Education to discontinue Bible reading in the city’s public schools.

In a letter to the board, the Jewish Congress charged that school Bible reading is “widespread” in the city school system. This practice, the American Jewish Congress stated, is apparently in accordance with Section 90, Subdivision 30 of the by-laws of the Board of Education, repeated in the Board’s 1960 handbook for principals of elementary schools, which stater: “The regular assemblies of all schools shall be opened by reading to the pupils a portion of the Bible without comment.”

The letter to the Board called attention to the unanimous ruling of a Federal District Court in Philadelphia last week, holding the daily reading of the Bible in public schools unconstitutional. The letter also cited a comment on the decision by a spokesman for the State Education Department in Albany that Bible reading was illegal in the public schools of New York State.

The Board was urged in the letter to annual its by-law and issue a directive to all public schools to “discontinue the reading of the Bible as an act of devotion and, wherever it may still be in practice, to discontinue as well the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.”

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