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California Rightists Open Drive Favoring Prayers in Public Schools

A country wide series of rallies to support a constitutional amendment permitting prayers in schools was initiated here last night with a meeting attended by some 2,500 persons, under the sponsorship of an organization known as Project Prayer.

The group, which is planning similar rallies in cities throughout the country, is backing a constitutional amendment introduced into Congress by Rep. Frank J. Becker, New York Republican, which would make prayer and Bible reading permissible in schools and other public places “if participation therein is on a voluntary basis.”

Many Jewish organizations have expressed strong opposition to the amendment which has been pending before the House Judiciary Committee for many months. Hearings on it have been scheduled for April 22. Sam M. Cavnar, national director of Project Prayer, who attacked the Supreme Court decisions which have held prayers to be unconstitutional in public schools, expressed “surprise” at the fact that the Synagogue Council of America and other religious groups, have backed the Supreme Court decision.

Speakers at the meeting included familiar ultra-conservatives in this state like D. B. Lewis, the Rev. W. S. McBirnie and Marion Miller. Mr. Cavnar was the director of a political rally held here in 1961, when one of the speakers advocated that Chief Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren should be hanged. Others who participated in last night’s meeting included some well-known Hollywood stars like Pat Boone, Rhonda Fleming, Dale Evans and Gloria Swanson.

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