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Compulsory Chapel Attendance at Military Academies Termed Unconstitutional

Thirteen major Jewish organizations, supported by the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs and the (Protestant) General Commission on Chaplains and Armed Forces Personnel, have asked the United States Circuit Court of Appeals here to prohibit compulsory chapel attendance at the military academies. They charge that the requirement is unconstitutional and an “archaic vestige inconsistent with American traditions of religious freedom.” The Defense Department replied that “the views of the academies must prevail unless the courts find their policies to be constitutionally prohibited.” The Jewish organizations filing the brief are the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Commission on Jewish Chaplaincy of the National Jewish Welfare Board, the Jewish Labor Committee, the Jewish War Veterans, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Rabbinical Council of America, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations and the United Synagogue of America. In addition, 12 of the organizations pressed their position in a letter to Defense Secretary Melvin R. Laird under the auspices of the Joint Advisory Committee of the Synagogue Council of America and the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council. The Commission on Jewish Chaplaincy declined to support this additional effort.

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