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Groups Seek To Soften Schools' Religion Policy

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Three religious groupsAirged the Board of Education to reconsider its previous policy and allow "students in our schools some religious expression on a voluntary basis." The groups presented three separate proposals to the trustees during an afternoon briefing session: (1) The Gideons of Washtenaw County requested that they be allowed to make available copies of the New Testament to each school child in the fifth through 12th grades; (2) The Huron Valley Youth for Christ requested permission to organize a teen club at the high school; and (3) The Fellowship of Christian Athletes asked for permission to organize an athletic group at the high school. Presently, school policy prohibits the organization of any school - connected activity or group which promotes a specific religious point of view. This policy is an administrative interpretaton of Supreme Court rulings on religious neutrality in the public schools. The Gideons stressed that the Bible distributions would t a k e place after school, and the students would be free to take or reject them. Both proposed clubs would also be voluntary, and would be open to all high school students regardless of race, color or creed. A representative of the A n n Arbor Ministers' Association (AAMA), The Rev. Richard Crusius, also attended the meeting to urge the trustees to support a "benevolent religious neutralism" in the public schools "which makes room forj a diversity of religious expres-J sion." The AAMA is not alliedl with the above three groups, the Rev. Mr. Crusius said. j Later in the evening a num-l ber of persons who apparently are supporting the differenti proposals attended the regulad Board of Education meeting. j School Board President HazeiJ J. Schumacher Jr. told the repj resentatives of the three rej ligious groups that the board will hear its attorney's and thd administration's opinions on thd proposals, and would come to A decisión as soon as possiblej probably next week. I