« AnteriorContinuar »
Mr. BUCHANAN. I think government has the right and, indeed, the responsibility to protect the basic individual rights and liberties of American citizens and to ask American citizens that they comply with the reasonable requirements of law. It seems to me the Government can do that whether or not those individuals have on a religious cloak. It seems to me that where an entity in the name of religion is violative of either law or the rights of American citizens, then the Government can legitimately act in such case.
Senator HATCH. Let me ask each of you: Do you feel that religious freedom rights are afforded the same degree of protection by the enforcement agencies of government as other civil rights, ranging from freedom from race and sex discrimination, for instance? Shall we start with you again, Dr. Kennedy, and then go across.
Do you understand my question? We raise-Congressman Buchanan raised the issue of race discrimination, now of sex discrimination, we have other rights that are held inviolative in this country.
Do you think that religious freedom rights are elevated to the same status?
Dr. KENNEDY. No, I do not. I believe that the attention of the country has been directed at various times in its history to certain problems that the society has raised: The problem of slavery, 100 years ago, the problem of discrimination in recent decades.
That same sort of attention has not been focused upon religious rights and perhaps today is a very signal turning point in that failure to direct the attention of our country to this problem.
I think that the number of cases of prosecution and persecution that have been described today bear testimony to the fact that religious rights of citizens are being trampled in the mud in many places in our country. Things which were unthought of a decade ago are taking place, such as the horrors that we heard about in Nebraska and in California and other places in this Nation. But I am optimistic that with such hearings as these and with the opportunity of airing these problems before the American people- I believe in the American system that justice and freedom for all will prevail. And I think one of the greatest dangers is the suppression of the expression of religious views on religious liberty which has taken place too often in our country and which this is a notable exception to today. I think that the outcome will be salutory. Senator HATCH. Thank you. Dr. Titus. Dr. TITUS. I believe that one of the fundamental errors today in the question of protection of religious freedom is viewing religion as a narrow claim. What I mean by that is that so often people think that churches have a claim that other people do not have, because they do not identify with a church. But religion is much broader than churches. It is even much broader than people who even identify themselves as religious people.
Let me give you an example. When Thomas Jefferson spoke against tax-supported schools in Virginia, he was not just concerned about government control of opinions about who Jesus Christ is, but he was also concerned about government control of what good physics is or what good mathematics is. That is, the opinions and belief of men, whether they are identified as religious subject matters or nonreligious subject matters were considered to be religion, that is the duty that we owe to our Creator.
What we think about mathematics, what we think about science is just as much a duty to our Creator as what we think about Jesus Christ, whether he is or is not the Son of God. They believed that the minds and hearts of the people, and therefore teaching, education, was considered to be religion.
If we would get back to the original intent of our Fathers and understand religion from the way they intended it to mean, then I think it would have a much broader-based appeal and then I think a lot more people would be concerned about religious freedom. And it would be elevated where it should be.
Sentor HATCH. Dr. Hill.
Dr. Hill. I think that 25 years ago I was in this building going up and down the halls with our civil rights needs and the problems of civil rights. I think 25 years later we still have civil rights prob lems, but now it is our religious rights.
No, I do not think the same emphasis is being placed because there is an assumption abroad in the land that we are always going to have proper religious rights in this country. There is the as sumption on the part of a lot of elected officials. It will always be there. It is just like the assumption that the plantation owner had, that the slaves were happy and that we did not even have to bother about them. And there are a lot of people who believe that religious freedom in the United States, with the exception of one, hither, thither, yon, everything is all right.
I think our presence here today, coming from such a broad spectrum and altogether suggests that all is not well and we certainly hope we can convince those in Congress that all is not well. And I think you can look at the voting rights, I mean the voting in recent years, things that matter in terms of civil rights for the most part have been passed.
Things that have mattered in religious freedom that the religious community has asked, have been somewhat bogged down.
So I do not think the same emphasis has been placed but I think that it does need to be placed here.
Sentor HATCH. Thank you, doctor.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Well, Mr. Chairman, religious liberty is a cornerstone of all our liberties and the protection of freedom of conscience, free exercise is certainly a matter of premier importance and of first importance.
It does seem to me that while real and legitimate problems have been raised here, there has been such an emphasis on the negative that we may overlook the fact that religious liberty does flourish and has flourished in the United States under the protections of the first amendment. And that perhaps to a unique degree among the nations of earth, of which I am aware, that is the case in our country and therefore the answer would be yes, religious liberty is of first importance, the protections of freedom of conscience, expression are of first importance. But I think the first amendment track record overall is quite good.
Sentor HATCH. Thank you.
Senator Leahy, I will be happly to turn to you at any time here.
Senator LEAHY. Mr. Chairman, you are covering all of the issues I would want to, and doing it better than I would.
I yield my time to you.
Sentor HATCH. Well, if I could just ask one more question of the four of you. And let us start with you, Congressman Buchanan.
Do you feel that the Nebraska cases, the Reverend Moon's case, the Bob Jones case, the tax and other issues raised by Reverend Bergstrom here today are indicative of any trend towards unconstitutional intrusions into the affairs of churches by the Government. And, if you do, how would you describe that particular trend?
Mr. BUCHANAN. I doubt my own competence to answer in the cases discussed, Mr. Chairman.
I would say that you do well to look hard at any possible Government intrusion into religious liberty.
Again, it seems to me that the experience of our society and the preponderance of the experience of our society is in the opposite direction from that. And I suspect that there is not serious violation of religious liberty in the United States nor a trend in that direction.
Senator HATCH. Could you wait just one second, Reverend Hill, before we call you on.
We do have Reverend Paul Weaver of Vermont here. Reverend Weaver, where are you?
Senator LEAHY. He is right behind you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Leahy has asked me if we could take just some short testimony from Reverend Weaver as well before we end this today and we still give him a few minutes to do that.
Senator LEAHY. Mr. Chairman, I-
Senator LEAHY. Mr. Chairman, I would note I greatly appreciate your courtesy. I know there have been hundreds of people who have asked to testify here today. And Reverend Weaver, who is well respected in the State of Vermont, has asked personally if he could testify-primarily because of the events in Vermont that have been alluded by a number of people over this past week. And I know that you are making an extraordinary effort to bring him into this. And I just want to express my appreciation to you.
Senator HATCH. We are very happy to have you, Reverend Weaver. I am just so pressured for time, but I do want to do this for Senator Leahy and for me. But we will get to you last.
But if you could answer that question. These cases, these instances that have been raised today, are they indicative of any unconstitutional trend or intrusions by the Government into the affairs of our churches; and, if so, how would you describe that trend and what shall we do about it?
Dr. HILL. Well, I want to describe the trend first.
I think that there is antagonism on the part of governmental agencies towards the church. I think this antagonism is in the Internal Revenue, I think this antagonism for instance in my own community is in the Department of Building and Safety, for instance, I can give you a good illustration.
The Department of Redevelopment of the Downtown Los Angeles-redeveloped Los Angeles, and I used to be a member of the city planning and zoning, redeveloped Los Angeles to accommodate 50,000 citizens downtown. But they made sure no more churches. And as the other churches are closed down and they are closing them down through code enforcements, no more replacements.
People, but no churches, is kind of throughout the country. There is antagonism against the church, against religious freedom now. That might not be an international movement led on natinally by Senators and what have you, that we are going to stop religious freedom, but I think as the church has become the church, in my own area, in civil rights, as Dr. Falwell and others have played a great role in the community, there is antagonism in Government all the way down to the city councils and I think that that does exist. And wherever problems can be brought up, they are brought up. We fight them daily. I happen to be vice president of the National Baptist Convention that represents 7 million people and we do have day-to-day antagonistic problems from governmental agencies who would just as soon rebuild the city and leave out the churches.
Senator HATCH. Dr. Titus?
Dr. Titus. I think these cases and particularly the Nebraska case, and the case involving Bob Jones are indicative of the example of the breakdown between the jurisdictional wall between the authority of the civil government and the authority of God. If we do not have a legal system that acknowledges a sovereign God that rules us before we come into a society, such as was the faith of our forefathers, then religion is going to be an invention of the State, or it is going to be an invention of people who are in authority. Rights once inalienable become merely civil and what we have, I believe, in example after example today, and I think in Nebraska and the Jones cases are good examples, is that when you have people who think that they have total authority over a particular area, such as education, then in good faith, believing that they have a compelling State interest, they can force people to conform to what they think is good educational policy or whatever other policy that they happen to enforce. As long as they do not believe that religion is an inalienable right granted by creator God, then they are going to substitute their own judgments for what they think is right and good for society.
We must go back to the faith of our fathers if we are going to have a religious freedom that is fixed and forever in a way to keep good faith bureaucrats from trying to impose their views on the rest of us.
Senator HATCH. Dr. Kennedy
Dr. KENNEDY. I believe that there is very definitely a trend that I alluded to earlier, and I believe that in the last half century this has begun in our educational institutions with increasing secularization. What is now commonly called secular humanism, it used to be called simply infidelity by the Founding Fathers of our country, it is a disbelief in any sovereign God who has overriding authority over the State and over all individual lives.
I think that this view that has pervaded our educational institutions has spread from there to our media where it has been greatly strengthened, and it has been spread abroad throughout our country. Now people educated in that way, indoctrinated through our media, are in our bureaucracies, they are in our Government, they are the people that Dr. Hill has had to deal with and others in our churches. And I think that this secularism bodes very ill for the future of religious freedom in this country.
It is a fact that this Nation founded by predominantly Christian people provided for the world the greatest amount of religious liberty that had or has ever existed anywhere in the world before. There is no other nation in the world that has allowed the degree of religious liberty that was allowed by Christian America established on these shores. And yet today we find in secular humanisn an increasingly intolerant alien religion that is intolerant of any other religious view expressing its opinion in the public sphere, and it has done all it can to repress and suppress the expression of any other religious viewpoint in our schools, in our Government, anywhere. Efforts to take away the motto of in God we trust, suits against the astronauts, for reading the Bible, suits against prayer, taking away the Ten Commandments, all this type of thing, pushed by people who are unbelievers, who are atheists, who are secular humanists, whatever you want to designate them as, demonstrate a very intolerant system. And I think that unless the American people realize that this Christian system allowed a degree of religious liberty never before seen, where Tom Paine and Robert Ingersoll and Madeline Murray O'Hare could express their views on any platform in America, on national television and in the press, and everywhere else, where any person could come, whether it be a Buddhist or a Hindu, could proselytize—which is against the law in many other countries of the world today-tremendous religious freedom in Christian America.
I believe that if we see the complete success of the secularist view of life, you will find a continual corresponding diminution of the amount of religious freedom that is allowed in our country. And I believe that under the guise of neutrality or of secularism, and without letting people know that this is a religion, we have virtually in this country today an established religion in America. It is the religion of secular humanism. It is established in the sense that it is taught in virtually every public school in America today, and its tenets are upheld by the courts of this country. Evolution, one of the principal pillars of secular humanism is taught in virtually every school in America, while creationism may not be taught by court edict, and on and on you can go with other things. Their amoral ethical system is taught, their world view in taught, and so this country is being indoctrinated in another religion which has been established in this country. And I believe that unless the American people see this larger view of what is happening, they are not going to understand the whys and the wherefores of the particular cases that we are facing, and I think that America needs to get back to its foundations, to the views of the founders of this country as to what America was originally founded upon if there is going to be any hope of continuing religious freedom in this Nation.