Seattle, WA, April 2, 2010 … Calling it "a victory for religious freedom," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the repeal of an Oregon law prohibiting teachers from wearing religious garb in public schools.
Hilary Bernstein, ADL's Pacific Northwest Community Director, issued the following statement:
Oregon's action is a positive step toward accommodating teachers of diverse faiths and a victory for religious freedom. We applaud Governor Kulongoski and Oregon legislators for recognizing that banning all forms of religious dress for teachers – as Oregon had done – was unnecessarily overbroad and precluded many people of faith from entering the teaching profession.
Oregon's teachers are still required to comply with the constitutional requirement that they not proselytize or promote their faith to impressionable school children. However, within that limit, teachers should be permitted to undertake the personal religious act of wearing a yarmulke, turban or other religious attire.
We are glad that Oregon has opened the door to teachers and employees of many faiths.
The League was part of a broad coalition that had written to Governor Ted Kulongoski urging him to repeal the law.
ADL's coalition partners included: American Islamic Congress, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, American Jewish Committee, Asian American Justice Center, Asian Law Caucus, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Interfaith Alliance, Japanese American Citizens League, North American Religious Liberty Association, North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA), Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), The Sikh Coalition, South Asian Bar Association of Northern California, and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.