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Philadelphia Rabbis, Community Council Oppose State Bill to Aid Church Schools

The Philadelphia Board of Rabbis, the Jewish Community Relations Councils of Greater Philadelphia and the Jewish Community Relations Conference have gone on record as firmly opposed to House Bill 1136–the Mullen Bill–now before the Pennsylvania legislature, which would bypass constitutional prohibitions against public aid to sectarian schools.

The Board, in a statement issued here, said that while “among our rabbis there are varying opinions and views as regards state aid to education, we are unanimous in agreement that House Bill 1136…can only exacerbate church-state relations, religious group pressures and racial tensions.”

The Jewish community relations councils issued a joint statement which was a condemnation of the Mullen Bill and a fervent defense of America’s 200-year-old tradition of separation between state and church. The Mullen Bill, which is supported by Roman Catholic and Orthodox Jewish groups, would set up a State non-Public School Authority to “purchase secular educational services” from private schools in Pennsylvania.

The JCRC statement noted that proponents of HB 1136 question the pertinence of state-church separation to 20th century problems. “We believe,” the statement said, “that religious liberty rests upon the principle of ‘voluntariness’ in religious affairs. That principle is seriously compromised when government aids religion with moneys raised through the compulsive tax process. Citizens are thereby compelled to support religions. A particular faith will grow not out of intrinsic merit but in relation to the political strength of its adherents.”

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