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In the early history of the Christian church, the religious department of
the Roman Empire commanded the apostles to stop teaching in the name of Jesus.
Having been taught well by their Master to render to Caesar only that which belonged to Caesar, the church fathers answered: "We ought to obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29.
This biblical lesson of jurisdiction inspired America's forefathers to vrite a constitutional guarantee of religious freedom that would protect themselves and future generations from civil government tyranny. Only if that jurisdictional principle remains fixed and absolute in American constitutional lav will the people remain free. Changing constitutional principles in order to accommodate changes in circumstances and values does not yield "a living Constitution" as some believe. To the contrary, adhering strictly to the original terms, neither adding to aor subtracting from them, is the only assurance of true liberty and prosperity. It is as Moses spoke to the people of Israel: "Keep . . . the words of this covenant, and do them that ye nay prosper in all that ye do." (Deuteronomy 29:9)
While the majority decision in Marsh v. Chambers offers some hope that the
Court, and therefore the nation, will return to the original understanding of
religion as understood by the Framers, the American people must vigilantly pray
for and select leaders who will make it their commitment to interpret and apply
the constitutional text according to its historic meaning rooted in the
Framers' faith in God.
Senator HATCH. Let us turn to you now, Dr. Hill. We are very interested in taking your testimony.
STATEMENT OF DR. EDWARD V. HILL Dr. Hill. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Leahy.
The first thing I want to say is that I am sorry Senator, I think it is DeConcini, left. I wanted to assure him that this court system that I appreciate and this court of law once upon a time ruled that persons of my color was not even a person. And then finally they agreed that we were a percent of a human being and then, many years later, they decided we were a human being that needed to be segregated. So it is not the holy cow. It is not as holy as one might think. It is improving but it has a long ways to go.
And even in the primaries that we have just ended in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, we see double primaries, we see double standards of registration. So let us keep moving and trying to improve it.
I do not think we really have a problem. The problem reallyrather did not surface when the church was defined a religious freedom as just some place to worship. But there is something that has been happening in this country, and that is as a result of our worship, something greater is happening, and that is people want to be a part of the church and they want the church to be the church. Lives are being changed. People are conforming their lives to the word of God as they see it as being led by the Holy Spirit. New lifestyles are coming forward.
Thus they are turning to the church and to the pastor, not to the social leaders, not to the mayor, and what have you, but to the pastors, and seeking a new lifestyle. And they are seeking directions and help. And so, all of a sudden, the church must not only just gather a group to worship at a given time but, all of a sudden, the church now must respond to the needs and to the requests for leadership that the people throughout this great country is asking the church. Thus it has become, particularly in my State, necessary for a church in order to respond to the needs of the people and to minister to the total man, to become what is known as a nonprofit corporation, 501(c)(3) in the State-I mean in the Nation and to qualify in the State of California. And that is where the whole bag of worms, can of worms came open. Because once we qualify now as a nonprofit corporation, most States look upon us just as that, not a church, not a gospel movement, not a movement of God, but simply a nonprofit corporation to which every agent and all kinds of institutions in the State feel that they have a right to come in now that you are a nonprofit corporation and adjust your rules and regulations to the standards of what a State says a nonprofit corporation ought to be. They make no distinction between nonprofit, charitable corporations, like the Red Cross, over against a congregational controlled, nonprofit corporation church. And there is a great distinction.
One is organized to try to help and to bring help to suffering humanity in a physical manner. One is ordained of God to bring about a total help, both spiritual and physical. But when all of these agencies, simply because you now have qualified, as Mount Zion Baptist Church, a nonprofit corporation, all of these agencies now under that nonprofit status can come in now and let me see this, let me see this. When we try to build homes for the elderly, we have to have a nonprofit status, but that is an extension of the church. When we try to help the unemployed youth, when we try to help the hungry people in order to receive certain grants and what have you, we have to have a nonprofit status. We are flooded with agencies that probably-as Senators I know you know they exist, but you do not know the multitude in which they exist and the many times that they knock on our door at such a level. And I want to tell you if there is any such thing as a hostile anti-Christ, anti-church group, it is in these agencies and bureauracies that come to us because we are not a church but a nonprofit corporation.
It is under that that the State of California sent out a letter 4 years ago that all churches would submit to the Secretary of State their sources of income, their lists of contributors, and what did they do with the money as a church.
Well, thanks be to God for our legislators. We moved that down right quick. But there were agencies who said because there are nonprofit organizations just like the Red Cross we ought to know about it because of this philosophy there are people who have moved into the courts without exhausting ecclesiastical ways of getting into it, they have moved into the courts, declared past and present officers out, conducted their own elections by people who are not even religious people, because of a nonprofit status, and on and on I could go if it were not for that satanic light up there. (Laughter.]
Senator LEAHY. Instruments of the Devil show up everywhere. (Laughter.]
I heard that light called a lot of things but this is the first time I heard it called that. (Laughter.]
Dr. Hill. Yes.
Senator LEAHY. I am sitting further away from it than you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Hill. That is another minute.
And what is happening, our religious freedom is not so much being snuffed out at the top, we have a President who is proclaiming it, we have Senators who love the Lord and who have prayer groups. But these eons of agencies who can come at us because we have the tax privilege and who disregard that we are nonprofit but church, and they have no concept that the church has its policing power, the church has its own inter-it is harder to get a contribution out of a Baptist Church of trustees than it is a Senate Appropriation Committee. (Laughter.]
But these people do not regard that. And there is also which we have chaos at the bottom and affirmation at the top but very few people ever meet you who are at the top. We deal with the people who are down in the gutter and they give us a heck of a time.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. [Applause.)
Senator LEAHY. Mr. Chairman, I might note that at least like the implied applause in that, because we have had a number of people, I am sure-well, you may not get these kind of letters but some of us get these kinds of letters implying that when they are dealing
with us, they are dealing with those down in the gutter. At least one witness feels somewhat different.
Sentor HATCH. I have heard us compared to this red light a few times. As the-
Sentor LEAHY. In various ways.
Well, I have certainly enjoyed your testimoy. I think in your own eloquent way you have made a lot of very important points here today.
John we are happy to turn to you. You are our last witness. We appreciate having you here, and then we would like to ask some questions.
STATEMENT OF JOHN BUCHANAN Mr. BUCHANAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is always a pleasure to appear before you, and I am here today singing my usual song, which is a song of celebration of the first amendment and for the wisdom of our forefathers in framing that amendment which is the cornerstone of the Bill of Rights and the most fundamental protection of our liberty.
Without discounting any of the concerns here earlier expressed, on your own concern, Mr. Chairman, because eternal vigilance is the price of liberty in our time, as in every time, we would urge the Senate to resist any and all attempts to weaken or dilute the first amendment. We are celebrants of the diversity of our society.
I understand there are some 200 religious sects in the country today. We are a nation that has been composed not only of Christians, and although I have not met many, I understand secular humanists, but also Jews and Muslims and people of other faiths, and people of no faith at all. And the fact that the first amendment has created-has protected the individual freedom of conscience so that people as free moral beings in this society can choose what to believe and how to believe and practice. This is our most fundamental freedom.
We would urge therefore that no action be taken in the name of improving on the law which would in fact dilute the basic protections of the first amendment.
Now, we recognize that those same values which shape political beliefs also shape religious beliefs, and there is going to be some inevitable mixing of one's religious views and one's political views and activities and, therefore, we asked Jim Castelli, who is Washington bureau chief of Our Sunday Visitor, which is the largest U.S. Catholic weekly, to prepare for us an issue paper which is entitled “Ten Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics." The guidelines and principles that he iteates in that paper are in my written testimony and I would commend it to your attention.
Sentor HATCH. We would be happy to have it. Mr. BUCHANAN. I would like to deal with one of the subjects, and that is the fact that government does have some right to demand that religious institutions comply with reasonable regulation and social policy.
I am an active member of the Riverside Baptist Church, at 680 I Street SW., Washington, DC. I would invite you all to come to church Sunday. It is wonderful. But, we have not yet organized a Baptist Fire Brigade, so if our church would catch fire on Sunday, we would call the D.C. Fire Department. It is therefore reasonable that we in our building must comply with those basic fire and safety codes.
More seriously, many terrible things have been done historically in the name of religion. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the religious wars and persecution, Baptists in Virginia were beaten and imprisoned and run out of town for proclaiming their Baptist faith. We know the story of the Mormons in the United States. Many things have been done in the name of religion that were wrong, child sacrifice, the burning of people at the stake, the drowning of witches and so forth. So there must be some reasonable way for society to expect basic compliance with law on the part of religious groups and religious persons. And it seems to me, for example, as the Supreme Justice Warren Burger of the Supreme Court said, pertaining to the Bob Jones case, that:
Denial of tax benefits will inevitably have a significant impact on the operation of private religious schools, but will not prevent those schools from observing their religious tenets. The Government has a fundamental overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education. That Government interest substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on petitioners' exercise of their religious beliefs.
It is not always easy to delineate where the line must be drawn. But it seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that in such a basic matter as civil rights, that our society has no more important business than to make sure that every person born into this society, regardless of that person's sex or race or economic condition, or geographic location, has every opportunity and every incentive to become the most, the best that is in that person to be, to rise to that person's full stature and fulfill whatever gifts God has given that person.
Now, as I, as a religious believer, believe that as a part of my religious belief, but it also seems to me that is so basic and fundamental a right of American citizens that the Constitutional civil rights of American citizens must be protected at all costs, and not even a religious group in the name of religion has the right to violate those most basic rights of our American citizens.
So we would urge that you look in depth at these difficult questions and that you, by all means, stand by the first amendment which for nearly 200 years has protected our rights. And that while recognizing that Government has some reasonable right to expect of religious people what it expects of all citizens, that the basic freedoms that we have been guaranteed to the wisdom of our Founding Fathers be protected in the way they have been for 200 years, and that is by cherishing and keeping the first amendment undiluted and unchanged, whatever else the Senate might wish to do.
[Material submitted for the record follows:]