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Iowa School Board Bans Distribution of New Testament Following Protest by Rabbi

January 16, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Davenport school board yesterday halted distribution of the New Testament to school children following a protest by Rabbi Abram V. Goodman of the local Temple Emanuel.

In a letter to the school beard, Rabbi Goodman pointed out that “the distribution of sectarian literature violates the historic separation between church and state” in this country. He added that although acceptance of the New Testament was voluntary, children who did not take it were embarrassed.

Permission for school children to accept copies of the New Testament on a voluntary basis offers a precedent for the dissemination of literature by other groups, the letter pointed out. “The Knights of Columbus might distribute Catholic catechisms, and the B’nai B’rith Jewish prayer books,” Rabbi Goodman argued. “This opens the door to even more fantastic operations in the name of religion. Since the school system is nonsectarian, there is no justification for the division of children according to religious backgrounds in the classrooms.”

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