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May 19, 1989 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I LOCAL NEWS I

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Bloomfield Ballot

Continued from Page 1

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16

FRIDAY, MAY 19, 1989

leadership and the need for
standardized curricula in
each school. Cohen, a Jewish
candidate, is the only
challenger who said he is run-
ning strictly as a concerned
parent.
"We need to help kids meet
the needs of the future," Har-
dy said. "I don't want man-
datory religion in the schools.
But I am for Christmas-
related activities that are
multicultural for understan-
ding. I like diversity and want
it recognized."
Klapp said he would like to
see prayers in school for all
groups, including Hindus,
Asians, Jews and Christians.
"All holidays should be
observed," he said.
The issue of religion in
public schools first surfaced
in Bloomfield Hills in
December when members of
TORCH, an acronym for Tax-
payers Organization to
Restore Cultural Heritage,
unsuccessfully attempted to
convince the school board to
permit Christmas celebration
in the schools.
At various school board
meetings, the group said its -
specific goal was to legally
put Christmas back into the
schools "as it relates to the
tradition of this country.
Through the educational pro-
cess, our children can learn
from others and be enriched
by the experience
Speaking to the school
board for TORCH were
Bloomfield Hills residents
former Gov. George Romney,
his daughter-in-law, Ronna
Romney, and her sister, Toby
Jones, a co-founder of the
movement. Jones refused to
accept phone calls from The
Jewish News.
Another founder of the now
the inactive TORCH group is
Jack. Givens, a member of the
Brightmoor Tabernacle in
Southfield, the fundamen-
talist church with which
Klapp is affiliated. Klapp said
he is not familiar with
TORCH or any movement to
reinstate religion in the
schools.
School board members have
continually vowed support of
the board policy, which states
simply that religion has no
place in a public education
classroom. Meanwhile,
Superintendent W. Robert
Docking has been studying
ways to address the cultural
diversity issue. Board
members said Docking is ex-
pected to make recommenda-
tions on the issue by June.
Miriam Schey, who handles
First Amendment issues for
the Jewish Community Coun-
cil, said the Bloomfield Hills
situation stems from old-line
values.

As more Asians, Chaldeans,
Jews and Hindus move into
the once monolithic com-
munity, some residents
"merely are trying to restore
the district to the way it used
to be," Schey said.
"It started off as a simple
church and state issue," Schey
added. "But the real heart of
the matter is acceptance of
differences. It has mushroom-
ed into ethnic diversity. There
are people who are threaten-
ed and are afraid that their
kids are being exposed to too
many differences?'
Schey said the Jewish Com-
munity Council hopes to
launch a program for the
schools to educate the com-
munity about ethnic and
cultural backgrounds. She
said the Troy and Rochester
school districts also have ex-
perienced problems over the
presence of religion and
ethnic diversity.
"Church and state has
always been an issue," Schey
said. "It is coming back in a
new form?'
Mark Stern, an attorney
with the American Jewish

Bloomfield Hills
religion-in-school
advocates "are
swimming against
the tide."

Congress in New York who
specializes in church/state
issues, said Bloomfield Hills
religion in school advocates
are "swimming against the
tide
Across the country, Stern
said, school districts are try-
ing to tone down the celebra-
tion of Christmas. He said a
fast growing influx of Asians
and Hispanics has forced
school systems across the
country to deal with more
diversity.
"Church/state battles can
be turf battles," Stern said.
"It is viewed less as a fight of
celebrating Christmas and
more over who controls
Bloomfield Hills."
Stern said several religious
groups,. including Baptist
Joint Committee on Public
Affairs, the AJCongress, and
the Christian Legal Society,
have mustered forces with the
National Education Associa-
tion and the Americans
United for the Separation of
Church and State to prepare
informational packages for
schools on ways of teaching
how holidays are celebrated.
It should be completed by
December.
"The religious community
ought to rise in horror and
say.no to religion in schools,"

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