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N.c.r.a.c. Opposes Federal Aid to Religious Schools; Explains Stand

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Opposition to providing Federal aid to religiously controlled schools was expressed in a resolution adopted at the 19th plenary conference of the National Community Relations Advisory Council which concluded its sessions here yesterday. The NCRAC is the advisory body of six national Jewish organizations and 62 Jewish community relations councils throughout the country.

“We are persuaded, ” the resolution stated, “that governmental aid to religiously controlled schools–Protestant, Catholic or Jewish–whether in the form of long-term low interest loans or outright subsidies, would do a grave disservice to both religion and public education. Our opposition to tax assistance extends as well to transportation, textbooks and other supplies. However, we do believe that free lunches and medical and dental services should be extended to all children as welfare aid regardless of the schools they attend.”

The conference went on record endorsing the immigration bill introduced by Senator Philip A. Hart, Michigan Democrat, with substantial bipartisan sponsorship. It expressed disappointment that President Kennedy had failed to speak out in support of the bill and urged him to use “the prestige and weight of his office” to support this legislation.

The conference accepted the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of compulsory Sunday observance laws but announced continued opposition to such laws “in the conviction that they violate the principle of religious liberty.”

The resolution explained that “we regard as salutary laws affording gainfully employed persons one day of rest in each week, the choice of the day to be so observed being a matter of individual preference. At the very least, where Sunday closing laws exist, they should exempt from their provisions those persons whose religious convictions compel them to observe a day other than Sunday as a religious day of rest.”

In another resolution, the conference warned that “the ultra-right must be regarded as threatening to our democratic institutions and social gains. ” It expressed the conviction, however, that “they and their methods are firmly rejected by an overwhelming majority of the American people, ” It advised that “a constant vigilance and effective counteraction are essential, “

The conference complained that progress toward the goal of full equality for all Americans “is still far too slow.” It criticized the Kennedy Administration ‘s piecemeal approach” in the direct use of the executive power to advance civil rights. The resolution protested the “almost complete inaction” of Congress on the civil rights issue.

As in previous years, the conference adopted a resolution expressing regret that certain national Jewish community relations organizations remain outside the NCRAC and inviting them to rejoin it. The conference went on record in opposition to enactment of libel legislation intended to protect racial, ethnic or religious groups against group libel.

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