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September 02, 1983 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-09-02

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Agencies Fight Religious Club in School

NEW YORK — Two na-
tional Jewish agencies have
challenged the constitu-
tionality of a federal district
court ruling permitting a
religious club to meet and
pray on public school prem-
ises during. regular school
In a joint amicus Curiae
(friend-of-the-court) brief,
the Anti-Defamation
League of Bnai Brith and
the American Jewish Con-
gress have called upon the
U.S. - Court of Appeals for
the Third Circuit, Philadel-
phia, to reverse the deci-
The case arose when a
group of high school stu-
dents in the Williamsport
(Pa.) Area School District
sought permission to form a
club whose members would
read scripture, pray and
" discuss religious themes.
The club would meet during
a special period in the offi-
cial school day set aside for
clubs "which promote the
intellectual, physical and
social development of stu-
dents." Students who do not
participate in club activity
must go to their homeroom
or the library.
When permission was
denied by the superin-
tendent of schools and
the school board because
it would be a violation of
the constitutionally
mandated separation of
church and state, the
students sued. Their suit
was upheld by the dis-
trict court in Scranton.
In seeking reversal, ADL
and AJCongress argued
that the students' religious
club "presents precisely the
dangers which the First
Amendment seeks to avoid
and which prior (Supreme
Court) decisions prohibit."
Among these dangers, the
brief declared, are:
• Potential divisiveness
along religious lines;
• The appearance of a
governmental imprimatur
on religious practices in
general, or certain religions
in particular; •
• Substantial risk of pro-
selytization in public
schools with the appearance
of official sanction;
. • Inevitable entangle-
ment between government
and religion.
. The brief cited the pre-
cedent of McCollum v.
Board of Education
(1948) in which the Sup-
reme Court held that
public school classrooms
may not be turned over to
religious groups for reli-
gious purposes during
the school day.
The brief went on to state
that permitting the club to
meet under the sponsorship
of school authorities at a
time when attendance is
mandated by state law —
during the school day.when

student club meetings are
regularly scheduled —
would mean that "public
schools serve as vehicles for
propagating religious val-
ues and beliefs."
The two agencies also
pointed out that the district

court erred in upholding the
constitutionality of the
club's religious activities by
declaring that they did not
violate the establishment
clause. To the contrary, ac-
cording to the brief, for the
school authorities to ap-

prove the religious club and
allow it to meet during the
school day would imply "of-
ficial recognition" of reli-
gious activities and consti-
tute the very advancement
of religion.forbidden by the
establishment clause.


Friday, September 2, 1S3 17

144ii; Analyzes ,,So,viet -Sititation

"Anti-Zionism should be
seen as a tremendous
danger to Soviet Jewry,"
confirmed MK Aharon
Harel (Labor), one member
of an Israeli delegation re-
cently invited to the USSR
by the Soviet Committee for

Harel contrasted the in-
tensified wave of Soviet
anti-Zionism with his ob-
servation that on this visit
"we did not encounter Jews
in hiding. We moved around
freely, met with Jews and
distributed our material."

Our Labor Day
Weekend Sale

makes finding super menswear
bargains a breeze.
For example: Calvin Klein
jeans were regularly $42,
now sale priced at
$28.90. John Weitz's new
fall sweaters have crew
and V-necks. Regularly
$35, they're now just
$19.90. Come and
see stores filled with
smart menswear
buys. You'll find
'em with no
work at all.

Book Month

Jewish Book Month will be
marked Oct. 30-Nov. 30, ac-
cording to Blu Greenberg,
president of the JWB
Jewish Book Council, spon-
sor of the event.

Oakland Mall, Troy;
Tel-Twelve Mall, Southfield;
MeadowBrook Village Mall, Rochester.

Use your Osmuns charge for extra convenience.

Labor Day Weekend Sale tot 3 days only!
Saturday, September 3,10 a.m. — 9 p.m.
Sunday, September 4, noon — 5 p.m.
Monday, September 5, noon — 5 p.m.






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