From AUcorbin@aol.com Thu Aug 31 14:19:54 2000
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 22:58:05 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Liberman Urged to Step Down as Chair of Center for Jewish and Christian Values
Contact: Steve Benen
GROUP SPREADS 'DISINGENUOUS PROPAGANDA' IN CRITICIZING PUBLIC SCHOOLS, CHURCH-STATE SEPARATION, SAYS AU
Americans United for Separation of Church and State called on Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman to resign as honorary chairman of a group that criticizes public schools for allegedly suppressing students' religious activity.
Americans United charges that the organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, makes a number of false charges against public education and church-state separation. Lieberman serves as honorary chairman of the Fellowship's Center for Jewish and Christian Values.
The Fellowship seems to have a track record of making reckless and
baseless charges about religious freedom in America and specifically
the role religion plays in public schools, Americans United
Executive Director Barry W. Lynn wrote to Lieberman.
I believe you
do yourself a disservice by your continued association with this
Lynn noted that the Fellowship:
Simplistically asserts that removal of official religious exercises
from public schools has resulted in more out-of-wedlock births,
increased juvenile crime, higher drug use among young people and
breakdown in basic morality.
the Radical Left is responsible for denying
children the right to religious expression in public schools.
Asserts, without offering any evidence, that some public schools have told children they can't say grace over lunch and forbidden them to give Christmas presents to friends.
Said AU's Lynn,
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
seems to have ripped a page out of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell's
handbook for bashing public schools. It's discouraging to see anyone
in public life endorse this group's misguided agenda.
In his letter to Lieberman, Lynn said the stories the Fellowship
circulates about public schools suppressing student religious activity
are most likely mythical.
Members of my staff and I have personally
investigated many of these types of claims over the years and have
found them to be either completely groundless or grossly
misconstrued, Lynn wrote.
Stories like this are often spread by
television preachers and other far-right activists who dislike public
education. Upon closer inspection, they usually turn out to have been
Concluded the Lynn missive,
It is discouraging that you have chosen
to serve as honorary chairman of an organization that apparently works
to spread disingenuous propaganda against public schools.... The
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews does not live up to
the high moral standards you have always championed. Please, withdraw
your support from this group today.
Lynn noted that the advisory board of the Center for Jewish and Christian Values is studded with Religious Right activists who frequently attack public schools and church-state separation, including former Education Secretary William Bennett, Southern Baptist Convention official Richard Land, former Family Research Council director Gary Bauer and ex-Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed.