A wide cross section of American churches has praised the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing high school religious clubs, saying it checks discrimination against religion.

The reactions came from mainline and evangelical denominations, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics. Jewish groups demurred.

"Millions of American students are the real winners in this case," a coalition of Protestants said. "They now can claim the right of equal access for their religious, political and philosophical speech."

The decision Monday upholds equal rights of students to form religion clubs if any kind of extracurricular clubs are allowed. Congress called in 1984 for such equal access, but many schools circumvented it.

Commenting on the court's decision, the Protestant organizations said it helps corrects "an almost paranoid fear of faith" shown by some schools, and added:

"Some school districts have gone so far as to single out student religious groups for discriminatory treatment by telling them that they alone cannot hold on-campus meetings before or after school."

But the court decision makes clear that such a policy "violates federal law" and the decision also "restores a proper balance" between church-state separation and guarantees of free exercise of religion, the organizations said.

They included the National Council of Churches, embracing mainline denominations, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs and the Christian Legal Society.

The American Jewish Congress called the decision regrettable.

"The decision will open up the nation's public high schools to proselytizing from organized student religion clubs," and create "religious divisiveness," said AJC President Robert K. Lifton.