ADL UPDATES GUIDE ON RELIGION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
AS DEBATE ON THE SUBJECT INTENSIFIES
New York, NY, January 5, 1996...The place of religion in the public schools
has been hotly debated for years, and recently the efforts to advance religious
views in grades K-12 have intensified. Contributing to the controversy and
confusion about what is permissible are two proposed amendments to the Constitution,
the activities of the religious right -- such as the Christian Coalition's
"Contract with the American Family" -- and new state laws around
the country. To help school administrators, teachers, school board members,
parents and others contend with the continuous changes, the Anti-Defamation
League (ADL) has updated Religion in the Public Schools: Guidelines
for a Growing and Changing Phenomenon. The new ADL handbook complements
the pamphlet President Clinton directed the U.S. Department of Education
to distribute to schools last August, defining the proper place for religion
in public education. That pamphlet was based on guidelines ADL helped to
"Religion and religious views are not banned from our public schools,"
said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Right now we have freedom
of religious expression and a separation of church and state, both of which
are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. What makes the
Constitutional amendments proposed by Reps. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) and Ernest
J. Istook Jr. (R-OK) so threatening to our democracy is that they would
remove the special distinction our constitution gives to religion. The amendments
would promote selected religious views, breaking down the separation of
church and state which now protects the rights of all of us -- including
those with minority religious views and nonbelievers. Certainly, we support
teaching American children moral values, but school prayer is not the answer,"
said Mr. Foxman.
Religion in the Public Schools is in a question-and-answer format, focusing
on such issues as school prayer, "creationism," distribution of
religious material on school property, teaching about religious holidays,
religion in the curriculum and student religious clubs. A comprehensive
guide, it examines Federal court cases from around the nation.
Prepared by the ADL Legal Affairs Department, it is available from the
ADL Materials Library. Cost is $6.40, including shipping and handling. Make
checks payable to the Anti-Defamation League. Fax order to: (201) 652-1973,
or send to: 22-D Hollywood Avenue, Hohokus, NJ 07423.
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.