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Federal File: Down on Pornography; Legal Eagles

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Undersecretary of Education Gary L. Bauer last week traveled to Cincinnati to bring a strong message of support from the Reagan Administration to a meeting of organizations that work to counter pornography.

"Pornography is a threat to our democratic way of life. It is also a threat to the larger cause of Western culture," said Mr. Bauer at the Third Annual Consultation on Pornography. "Let's make no mistake: the battle that we are fighting against pornography, for our children, for our country, also involves the fate of civilization as we know it.

"For in the name of 'freedom,' pornography may succeed in cutting us loose from the cultural moorings which are the conditions of freedom," he said.

To help protect youths from the "insidious" effects of pornography, Mr. Bauer suggested that schools "drop the ridiculous notion that it is possible to teach without teaching values," and "examine their own curricula to see if there is anything they might be doing which contributes to the pervasive cynicism about the standards of right and wrong."

He was critical of advocacy groups that seek legal protection for pornography, citing in particular the American Civil Liberties Union.

And he advocated the return of religion to the classroom, criticizing the aclu for supporting laws that "discriminate against children who seek to pray in our public schools. Or against teachers who would have the Ten Commandments on display in the classrooms."

Legal Eagles

As expected, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a group opposed to public aid to religious schools, sued Secretary of Education William J. Bennett last week, serving him with the papers on the steps of Banneker High School here after his classroom visit.

In two civil suits filed in federal courts in Kansas City and here, the 50,000-member group alleges that Mr. Bennett has refused to enforce the Supreme Court's decision barring Chapter 1 remedial teachers from religious-school premises, in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments. The advocacy group is also challenging the constitutionality of the department's plan to cover the extra expense of teaching religious-school students on public sites by taking it "off the top" of a district's Chapter 1 aid.

Mr. Bennett, in a prepared statement, called the lawsuit a "diversion from the serious business" of providing all students with the federal remedial aid.--jh

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