A Reform Jewish leader told evangelical Christians at Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University on Wednesday that prayer in schools is not the answer to moral decline in America.
Instead, Rabbi Eric Yoffie urged Christians and Jews to "build bridges, find shared values and join together."
Yoffie, president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, asked those at a chapel service in Lynchburg not to compromise church-state separation by making it a quick fix for the "disturbing collapse of public morality."
"The bloody rise of theological politics in the Islamic world, and especially in Iraq, reminds us how rare and fragile an achievement the separation of church and state really is," he said.
Religious leaders should work with media industry leaders to come up with a content-based rating system to protect children from on-screen sex and violence, Yoffie said.
"We live in an era of rampant materialism and no-strings-attached sexual encounters," Yoffie said. "Every night television assails our children with mindless reality shows that present self-gratification as the only goal worth pursuing. Pornography ... has become a staple of our culture."
He said religious leaders should remind their followers to turn off the television.
"We need to make our churches and synagogues into safe places where kids know that they matter and where they are shielded from the pressures of premature adulthood," he said.
Falwell was not available late Wednesday for comment on Yoffie's remarks.
The Union for Reform Judaism says it represents about 900 synagogues in North America with an estimated membership of 1.5 million people. Of the three major streams of U.S. Judaism it is the only one that sanctions gay ordination and supports civil marriage for same-sex couples.