School Administrators in U.S. Split on Supreme Court Ban on Prayer

More than half of the school administrators in the United States were reported today as disapproving of the United States Supreme Court’s decision of June 25 banning the New York State Regents Prayer from public schools in the state.

The poll of 16,000 administrators was made by the Nation’s Schools, a monthly educational journal, which also found that many of the 46 percent reporting them selves in agreement with the ruling expressed the belief that the decision applied only to mandated prayers, not to prayers in general nor to Bible-reading.

That point of view was the core of a ruling by Corporation Counsel Chester Gray of Washington, D. C., which will permit the Board of Education in the nation’s capital to act against the spirit of the June 25 decision.

The school administrators were evenly divided on proposals by Congressmen to introduce a Constitutional amendment which would permit the recitation of prayers in public schools, 48 percent being opposed and 46 percent being in favor. Many of the administrators expressed “much concern” that Christmas exercises might eventually be banned in public schools.

The Washington corporation counsel ruling cleared the way for the public schools to reopen September 4 with their regular procedure, following the Washington school code which provides that opening exercises shall include a salute to the flag, a reading from the Bible, “without note or comment,” and the Lord’s Prayer.

Mr. Gray’s opinion that the June 25 ruling did not bar school prayers but only the compulsory reading or saying of a prayer “officially” drafted by government officials was seen as probably providing a precedent for other school boards throughout the United States.

JESUIT STAND CRITICIZED BY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

Another development today in the continuing impact of the Supreme Court decision was a statement by Dr. Ben Mohn Herbster, president of the United Church of Christ, scoring an editorial in the Jesuit magazine, America, which criticized American Jewry for its backing of the June 25 ruling.

He said that no minority group “ought to be coerced into striking any bargain to secure rights guaranteed under the Constitution” and that Christian groups should not allow any effort made by a minority group to secure guaranteed freedoms by “acceptable legal procedures” to become “a point of conflict separating Christians from their brothers.”

He warned American Catholics that “no church ought to be so irked by being deprived of an immediate advantage that it sets itself against a principle which in the long run might be used to deprive that same church of its long-term freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.” He added that the United Church of Christ “can be depended upon to stand against anti-Semitism and for brotherhood.”

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