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Hearings on Reading of Bible in Public Schools Started in Philadelphia

August 13, 1958
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A special three-man court, sitting in the United States District Court here has begun hearing evidence in an action directed against the constitutionality of a school code requirement that ten verses of the King James Bible be read in school every day. The composition of the court will permit the case to be speeded to the United States Supreme Court.

The action was brought by Mr. and Mrs. Edward L. Schempp, of Roslyn, members of the Unitarian Church, and is being fought by the Abington Township School Board and the Philadelphia Board of Education. The Schempps charged that the Bible-reading regulation violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

Dr. Solomon Grayzel, editor of the Jewish Publication Society, who was called as an expert witness by the plaintiffs, told the court that Bible-reading in the public schools is a “divisive force. ” Appearing in a private capacity, Dr. Grayzel said the New Testament’s version of the trial of Jesus “was the cause of innumerable anti-Jewish riots throughout history. ” Under cross examination, he cited the story of the Good Samaritan as an example of a story with moral value which is potentially harmful in its sectarian context.

The three Schempp children also took the stand to testify that the Bible readings often conflicted with their own faith.

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