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A Win For Ten Commandments
August 29th 1999 1:56 P.M. EDT
Altoona schools reach compromise on Ten Commandments
By David Kinney, Associated Press, 08/28/99 05:56

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) The local pastor says it is a victory for Ten Commandments crusaders. The school district calls it just another addition to its ''character building'' curriculum.

Four months after a Baptist preacher asked that the Ten Commandments be posted in every school, the Altoona Area School District announced a compromise Friday, hoping to sidestep controversy by putting the religious rules in educational and historical context.

''I'm confident that what we have before you today is something that can withstand any challenge,'' said the district's attorney, David Andrews.

The proposal does not include posting the Ten Commandments.

Under the agreement, which still must be approved by the school board, high school students will be able to take a new elective course in comparative religion and form an after-school Ten Commandments Club.

Also, the Ten Commandments and other religious documents will be available in the libraries at every school and religious groups could distribute literature to the students outside the schools, although that is already allowed on public property.

It wasn't known Friday when the board would take up the issue.

''We all feel very good about this,'' schools Superintendent Dennis Murray said. ''Perhaps this program will evolve into something that can be packaged and modeled and we can distribute it to other school districts.''

Among the proposal's negotiators was Rabbi Burt Schuman of Altoona's Temple Beth Israel, who stridently opposed the original proposal set forth in May by the Rev. Gary Dull, pastor of the Faith Baptist Church.

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