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State Journal: Documentary issue; Charitable settlement

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What could be controversial about displaying historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Mayflower Compact in Kansas public school classrooms?

Well, nothing and everything.

State Rep. Joe Kejr said he sponsored a bill that authorizes teachers to display those documents, as well as such others as the Pledge of Allegiance and the U.S. Constitution, to assure teachers that they could teach about such writings even though they have religious references and underpinnings.

"We don't want these documents censored on a religious basis," Mr. Kejr said in an interview. He argued, for example, that some history texts ignore the religious foundation of the Mayflower Compact, the 1620 government covenant signed by male passengers on the Mayflower.

Some lawmakers said there was no need for the measure since nothing now bars Kansas teachers from displaying and teaching the documents.

But some advocates of strict church-state separation expressed concerns about the motives behind the proposal, apparently fearing that its true purpose was to promote religious discussion.

The House overwhelmingly passed the bill on Feb. 28. But Mr. Kejr said it does not appear that the Senate will take action on the measure.

"People will make something out of nothing if you give them a chance," he said.

Idaho's schools superintendent, Anne Fox, and a state charity have settled a lawsuit filed by Ms. Fox, her spokeswoman confirmed last week.

Ms. Fox had charged that the St. Vincent de Paul society in Coeur d'Alene, a Roman Catholic charity that serves the homeless, failed to pay her for her work as a grant writer.

The charity contended that Ms. Fox asked for 10 percent of the federal grant she helped procure without telling the group how much funding she had applied for or informing it of a requirement to raise matching funds.

Ms. Fox had no comment on the terms of the settlement last week and a lawyer for the society did not return phone calls.

--Mark Walsh & Meg Sommerfeld

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