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Judge Rules Against School's Hindu Art

Nation IN BRIEF / NEW YORK

May 22, 1999|From Times Wire Reports

A federal judge in White Plains, N.Y., ruled that a school district violated the religious rights of three Catholic families by having youngsters cut out elephant-head images of a Hindu god, make toothpick "worry dolls" and build an altar for an Earth Day liturgy. U.S. District Judge Charles Brieant ordered the Bedford Central school district to stop the activities and give clear instructions to teachers about Supreme Court standards for the separation of church and state. Brieant said he found "subtle coercive pressure to engage in the Hindu religion" when a third-grade teacher, during a lesson about India, had her pupils make construction-paper cutouts of elephant heads after reading a story about Ganesha, an elephant-headed Hindu god.

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