“Guidelines Documented on Religion in Schools”

By Margaret Combs
The Boston Sunday Globe – July 2, 1995

Nearly three dozen political and religious groups from the far right to the far left have released a document they hope will clarify the sorts of prayer and religious expression that are – and are not – allowed in the classroom.

“This is the first time a group as wide as this has gotten together and agreed on what can be done in schools,” says Marc Stern, a lawyer with the American Jewish Congress who drafted the document. Stern says the report, called “Religion in Public Schools: A Joint Statement of Current Law,” is rare in declaring common ground among religious liberals and conservatives.

Religious conservatives, Stern says, have their list of horror stories about how kids are being punished for wearing religious messages on T-shirts or simply typing ‘Jesus’ on the computer. “And on our side, we have coaches forcing kids to pray before games. Well, we think all of it is wrong, and now we’ve said so.”

The document was signed by representatives of 35 organizations spanning the entire conservative-to-liberal spectrum of politics and religious practice, including the National Association of Evangelicals and the Christian Legal Society on the right, the more moderate National Council of Churches and, on the left, the American Civil Liberties Union.

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