ADL Deeply Troubled by Education Secretary Paige's Comments on Faith in The Public Schools
New York, NY, April 9, 2003 … Deeply troubled by U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige's remarks on the role of faith and Christianity in the public schools, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged him "to clarify that the values public schools should be teaching are inclusive, democratic values which all Americans share, and not exclusive religious values which some Americans may not share." Secretary Paige was recently quoted as having said, "I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith."
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
We are deeply troubled by the Education Secretary's comments regarding the role of faith in public schools. There are many values which all Americans share and which are appropriate to teach American children, including the basic principles of democracy and individual rights enshrined in our Constitution. However, we do not share his view that public schools should be teaching children to have "a strong faith" or values "of the Christian community."
We are a nation of many faiths, and we treasure our freedom to worship as we choose or not to worship at all. Certainly, parents and religious leaders have every right to teach children about faith. However, this is one parental responsibility which should not - and cannot -- be passed on in our schools.
Secretary Paige's comments have caused considerable concern, especially for those in the religious minority, and we urge him to clarify that the values public schools should be teaching are inclusive, democratic values which all Americans share, and not exclusive religious values which some Americans may not share.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.