N.Y. State Body Debates Aid to Parochial Schools, Including Jewish

Sharply divergent views over state financial aid to religious schools emerged here today at a hearing conducted by the New York State Commission preparing for the State’s Constitutional Convention next April. The split developed over the proposal to repeal the prohibition in the State Constitution against such aid to religious-sponsored schools, which, if adopted, would benefit the more than 150 Hebrew day schools in the state as well as the extensive Catholic parochial school system.

At issue is a provision in the Constitution, drafted in 1894, that bars the use of state money “directly or indirectly” to aid schools administered or controlled by religious organizations. J. Eugene McMahon, treasurer of the Catholic Charities of Buffalo, said he hoped that the Convention would “cut through shibboleths of separation and frozen doctrinaire positions on church and state to see and acknowledge the child who is to be served and educated.” Calling for the retention of the prohibition, the Rev. Arthur W. Mielke, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo, said that the principle of separation of church and state was being “threatened by the Roman Catholic Church.”

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