Reform Rabbis Find 80% of Public Schools Circumvent Ban on Prayer
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Reform Rabbis Find 80% of Public Schools Circumvent Ban on Prayer

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The Central Conference of American Rabbis charged today that 80 per cent of public schools in the United States were “in wholesale disrespect” of the Supreme Court ban on prayers and Bible readings in the schools. The charge was made in a report approved by the 850 delegates at the 75th annual convention of the Reform rabbinical association meeting here.

Warning that proposals to circumvent the Supreme Court decision were “fraught with danger,” the rabbis assailed a proposed constitutional amendment introduced in the House by Rep. Frank E. Becker, New York Republican, which is now before the House Judiciary Committee, along with some 140 similar proposals. The rabbis expressed the hope that the proposals would not be favorably reported out of that committee “and that no compromise be proposed which could only negate the positive effects of the Supreme Court decisions.” The proposals would void those decisions.

The rabbis rejected “the contention that our schools are irreligious because of the elimination of religious practices and observances.” They asserted that perfunctory religious rites for school children contribute nothing to their spiritual enrichment or religious commitment. The elimination of such rites does not make the school godless.”

The rabbinical delegates also strongly opposed the shared time plan, under which pupils of sectarian schools are sent to public schools to share instruction in secular subjects with public school pupils. They said the plan, which has been tested in a few cities, had “serious dangers.” It is likely to accentuate religious differences,” they asserted. “It may involve religious functionaries in various aspects of public school administration, curriculum planning and scheduling,” they argued.


The rabbis called on the West German Government to “prove its allegiance to the cause of world peace” by recalling the West German scientists working on Egyptian arms development or to “cancel their citizenship.” The delegates also urged the adoption of a “ban under UN control of the supply, manufacturing, research and development of nuclear weapons and guided missiles for the Middle East nations.”

The delegates also hailed the recent declaration by President Johnson that the “United States supports social and economic and political progress in the Middle East” and the pledge of support for “the security of both Israel and her neighbors.”

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