« AnteriorContinuar »
adopt a wording almost identical with that of Bishop Pike's 1962 recommendation." It is evident that the intention of which Bishop Pike speaks was not that of the Founding Fathers but, rather, his own.
One function of government which we believe should stand entirely clear of church operations is that of the taxing power. One of the distinguishing freedoms of this country has been that which protects a man from taxation for a religion in which he does not believe. If a way should be opened up to breach this freedom, then the proposed tampering with the first amendment shall have done great and irreparable damage. Virtually all the proposals which relax the restrictions of the first amendment or open it up to certain government activity in the field of religion, would compound this damage.
The real intent of the Founding Fathers can be discerned in the constitutions and statutes of 48 of our 50 States which clearly express a prohibition on Government financial aid to churches or their schools. It is inconceivable that those who drafted the basic laws of our States could have utterly missed the intention of the Founding Fathers. On the contrary, they were carrying out their clear intention as they understood it. This meant the separation of state and church; it meant a free church alongside a free state with no exertion of the state's compulsion on behalf of the church. To seek to impose church patronage and sponsorship on the States by the Federal power via the 14th amendment would seem to be an unnecessary and gratuitous enlargement of the Federal power at the expense of the States. It is to be hoped that the Congress will not seek to extend the Federal power against the rights of the States and the rights of the people in any such manner.
Finally, the officers of Protestants and Other Americans United would like respectfully to lodge a solemn protest against a conduct of public hearings on an issue vitally affecting the basic liberties of the entire American people, and permitting only one side to be heard. We can scarcely believe that this has been true, yet the record would seem to bear it out. This nationwide organization whose top officials have served the top elective posts of the major Protestant denominations in the United States has been denied permission to present its views orally and publicly before the Senate committee. We understand that of all the church representatives requesting to be heard only Bishop Pike was permitted to appear because of his known position favoring a change in the first amendment.
We challenge the impartiality and, indeed, the propriety of Senate hearings which have been arranged to give only one side an opportunity to present its views. It is our feeling that on an issue of such gravity a committee of the U.S. Senate is entitled to have full information presented at its hearings. If the Senate Judiciary Committee decides to proceed further with the matter of amending the first amendment, we strongly urge that public hearings should be resumed and that both sides be given an opportunity to appear.
STATEMENT OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
(By Frank E. Karelsen, vice president and chairman of the executive committee)
The Public Education Association believes that the prohibition against establishment of religion in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States is a vital bulwark for the protection of the liberties of all Americans, including the freedom to worship or not, to believe in organized religion or not, according to the dictates of conscience. Because of this philosophy, our Nation has been free of religious strife, although it cannot be doubted for a moment that we are a religious people. Under no other government past or present have the people enjoyed such freedom to worship as they please and to indulge such freedom in more different ways and according to more diverse tenets. The "great object" of the Bill of Rights, Madison said when introducing his draft of the amendments to the House, is to "limit and qualify the powers of Government,” this in order to make certain that none of the powers granted the Government can be exercised in certain forbidden fields. One such forbidden field was religion. Jefferson, too, foresaw the danger of action by Government in the field of religion. Both he and Madison opposed any Government aid whatsoever to religioni. They reasoned that religion should remain a voluntary and private matter in which Government should not interfere in any way. This farsighted action has saved our country from much of the bitter religious conflict and sectarian strife that have plagued other nations.
In our view, none of the various resolutions proposed to authorize prayer in schools would do anything to enhance the education of American children. In many communities, on the contrary, the effect of such authorization would stim ulate continuing pressure for inauguration of school prayer and counterpressure against it. Battles over the allocation of school time for acts of worship and over the language and suitability of particular prayers would divide community after community and wreak havoc upon their educational programs.
The objections to these proposals are not based upon any lack of understanding of the point of view of parents who want their children to benefit from all the resources of their particular faith for conviction and commitment to worthy ends. However, religious observance is not the proper function of the public school. Religious ceremonies achieve their fully intended meaning only within the home or in a congregation which holds in common the faith expressed by the ceremonies. Prayer in school, if it is to have meaning for those pupils who share the faith it implies, is bound to be offensive to the others. Even in the unlikely event that the theists in a community could agree upon a given pra ver or religious ceremony, its use in the public schools would abrogate the rights of others who, though not theists, may have deep religious convictions.
Mechanical repetition of a prayer in a classroom atmosphere without religious background, on the other hand, is not good religion, and it certainly is not good education. The schools are hard pressed to perform their function of inspiring in students a love of learning. An act without meaning demeans both education and religion.
It seems to us that President Kennedy came closest to a constructive interpretation of the Supreme Court's decision when he pointed out that it placed squarely on the homes and the churches, responsibility for the religious training and development of our youth-a responsibility which can neither be delegated nor successfully shifted to any State agency. We believe that our churches and our homes are the safest and best places to conduct this training and, furthermore, that they are equal to the task. In our pluralistic society the encouragement and development of religious consecration and commitment must be left to the people themselves and to those the people choose to look to for religious guidance.
CONCLUSION The school prayer decision is sound constitutionally and historically. The constitutional prohibition against establishment of religion is vital to the preservation of public education and has proved to be beneficial to education and religon in its present form.
The Public Education Association is strongly opposed to all pending proposals to amend the Constitution so as to permit prayer or religious services in schools.
THE RULING ARCHBISHOP AND DIOCESAN COUNCIL
OF NORTH-AMERICAN AND CANADIAN DIOCESE
New York, N.Y., October 20, 1962.
DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: Thank you for your kind letter of the 17th instant.
I am commanded by the Synod of Bishops of the Eastern Orthodox Church Outside Russia to communicate with you and to register the synod's determined support for the proposed constitutional amendment stemming from the school prayer issue.
The Synod of Bishops entreats you and your colleagues to view with favor and to take vigorous, patriotic steps toward amending the Constitution so that it be firmly settled that article I solely and simply states that a state church is never to be established in the United States of America and that at no time is it unconstitutional for peaceful public prayer to be said in or at a government institution, the rights of unbelievers being duly protected.
The recent dismaying Supreme Court decision states in effect that children of religious parents and who have religious concepts do not have the right to public prayer in a government institution--the public school. The decision further implies that public prayer in a government facility is against the public weal.
If this point is left uncontested, how long might it be before occupants of other government facilities, a naval vessel or public hospital, are likewise told that they have no constitutional right to public prayer in these government institutions?
The opinion given by Mr. Justice Douglas clearly shows that he feels God has no place in any government activity. We are left with the foreboding of what to expect in the not too distant future.
This un-American decision lays the foundation for an irreligious state which is totally at odds with the aspirations of the Founding Fathers. If we today shrug off this corrosive assault upon the rights of the religious American, then, there is serious reason to believe that the rights which past generations of Americans enjoyed will not be passed on to future generations.
To protect the rights of the agnostic minority, the rights of the God-loving ruajority cannot be imperiled. I have the honor, sir, to remain, Yours sincerely in Our Lord,
ARCHBISHOP NIKON, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and Secretary to the Synod.
STATEMENT OF THE UNITARIAN FELLOWSHIP FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THE UNI
TARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION, IN OPPOSITION TO SENATE JOINT RESOLUTIONS 205, 206, AND 207; SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 81, AND SENATE RESOLUTION 356
The Unitarian Fellowship for Social Justice, with headquarters at 245 Second Street NE., Washington, D.C., and the Unitarian Universalist Association, with headquarters at 25 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass., wish to record their opposition to the above resolutions and their support of the Supreme Court's decision in Engel v. Vitale.
The Supreme Court has made what appears to us a valid interpretation of the first amendment to the Constitution. Since 1791 this amendment has served the cause of good church-state relations in the United States. On the one hand, it has prevented the domination of the Government by religious bodies; on the other hand, it has permitted religious persons and groups to pursue their own religious interests without interference from any governmental authority. In striking down as unconstitutional the prayer composed by the Board of Regents of New York for use in the public schools of the State, the Court has affirmed the principle of freedom of religion as guaranteed by the first amendment.
When a governmental body takes upon itself the composing of prayers for use in the public schools, it steps beyond its province. Prayers belong to the practice of religion. Religion is a personal matter, a relation between the individual and the deepest reality he knows. Religion is a family matter, a bond of a common commitment. Religion is the business of those institutions and movements which have as their primary concern the religious development of their adherents. The practice of religion is not the business of government.
We would also appose the use of a prayer in the public schools, such as the Lord's Prayer, which is derived from a particular religion. The use of such a prayer obviously discriminates against children who come from differing religions. The use of such a prayer, in our opinion, constitutes an establishment of religion, just as the use of the regents' prayer in New York State does.
Even a broadly phrased prayer such as the regents' prayer inevitably falls short of universality. Views of God and man's relationship to what is considered of ultimate reality are so varied that no prayer can include all views. Because it is not universally acceptable, the prayer constitutes religious discrimination. And because it represents no particular religious group but claims to represent them all, it really represents none adequately. Religion in general is hardly religion at all. Religion which lacks the dimension of commitment and faith is an empty shell.
We believe that in the Engel v. Vitale decision, the Supreme Court has ably discharged its duty to interpret the Constitution. Therefore, we oppose any attempt to override the Court's salutary interpretation and to alter the intent of the founders of our country to keep church and state separate. If the state engages in religious practices, religion in the United States will suffer. And if religion suffers, so will the Nation. We need government and we need religion, each working in its own sphere, each acting for the good of all.
STATEMENT BY GEORGE MAISLEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED SYNAGOGUE OF AMERICA
Mr. Chairman, I should like to express my gratitude to you and to all the members of the Committee on the Judiciary for affording me this opportunity to express the views of the United Synagogue of America on the proposal, now under consideration by your committee, to enact an amendment to the Bill of Rights sanctioning the recitation of prayer in the country's public schools.
The United Synagogue of America, which I have the honor of serving as president, is the congregational arm of the conservative movement in Judaism and embraces more than 700 synagogues in the United States (as well as many in Canada). Their members and adherents total about a million and a half Jewish men, women, and children, representing approximately a third of the entire Jewish community of this country.
The proposal to amend the Bill of Rights, which has been the bulwark of the rights and the liberties of the American people for about 175 years, has been prompted largely by the Supreme Court's recent decision barring a governmentsponsored prayer from the public schools of New York State. The United Synagogue, which welcomed the Supreme Court's decision as conforming to the principle of separation of church and state, strongly opposes the proposed amendment on the ground that it would be repugnant to that principle.
The first amendment to the Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It is to the clause “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” that I would like to address myself; I believe that this clause has more bearing on the issue than the “establishment of religion" clause. We believe that there is general agreement that there has never been, and that there is not now, any intention of enacting the establishment of religion in America ; that is to say that any system of theology or religious sect should be established by our Government, for our Government, to the exclusion of all other systems of theology or religious sects.
However, the proponents of the proposed amendment construe that portion of the first amendment that provides that no law shall be enacted prohibiting “the free exercise thereof” to mean that to bar prayers from the public schools violates the free exercise of religion. To circumvent the Supreme Court's decision, therefore, they seek to embody in the first amendment such language that will specifically provide for the right to offer prayers in the public schools.
We of the United Synagogue of America have carefully examined the proposed legislation and feel that we must all ask ourselves several questions. First, when our Founding Fathers framed the first amendment, what did they have in mind ? Did they desire an interpretation such as that reflected in the Supreme Court's decision or such as that reflected in the proposed amendment? If, were they living today, they would welcome the Court's interpretation. We must then ask ourselves: Do the proponents of the proposed amendment desire to change the Founding Fathers' original concept of religious freedom, and if so, for what compelling reason? On the other hand, if the proponents of the proposed amendment believe that our Founding Fathers never intended the interpretation of the Supreme Court, then we must examine the historical development of the first amendment.
When James Madison was asked to prepare a statement of the full case for separation of church and state, he wrote the famous "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.” Both Madison and Jefferson, who sponsored the Bill of Rights that was ultimately adopted, were religious men, and there was no irreligious or atheistic force in their desire to create the "wall of separation between Church and State,” as Thomas Jefferson expressed it; rather, they had in mind the historical background of their ancestors: the persecution of Baptists and Quakers and other religious sects. Our Founding Fathers were students of history as well as statesmen of stature. For the first time in the history of any nation, a new principle of government was promulgated specifying that religion was to be kept outside the authority of government and that the government was forbidden to infringe upon religious rights or to violate them.
So that in the formative period of our Government, when our Constitution was molded, this doctrine of separation of church and state was clearly enunciated. Bancroft, in his “History of the Formation of the Constitution," wrote:
“Vindicating the right of individuality even in religion, and in religion above all, the new Nation dared to set the example of accepting in its relation to God
the principle first divinely ordained in Judea. It left the management of temporal things to the temporal power, but the American Constitution, in harmony with the people of the several States, withheld from the Federal Government the power to invade the house of reason, the citadel of conscience, the sanctuary of the soul, and not from indifference, but that the infinite spirit of eternal truth might move in its freedom and purity and power.”
In 1796 George Washington, in negotiating the treaty with Tripoli which was sent to the Senate in 1797 during the Presidency of John Adams, wrote the following significant words, which should allay any doubt as to the religious character of our Government:
"As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Mussulman; and as the said states have never entered into any war or active hostility against any Mohammedan natives, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of harmony existing between the two nations."
As Richard M. Johnson said in his famous report to the Congress as to whether the mail should be carried on Sunday:
“What other nations call religious toleration, we call religious rights. They are not exercised in virtue of governmental indulgence, but as rights of which the Government cannot deprive any portion of citizens, however small. Despotic power may invade those rights, but justice still confirms them. The agnostic, the infidel, the nonbeliever of every stripe and shade, find protection beneath the aegis of that noblest emanation from the human intellect, our Constitution.”
The interpretation of the Supreme Court in the case of the regents prayer is in consonance with the thinking of the Supreme Court of Ohio in the 1870's, in the case of Minor v. Board of Education, which sustained an ordinance forbidding the reading of the Bible in schools. The opinion was read by Judge Alonzo Taft, the father of our illustrious late President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft.
In considering the applicability of the phrase "the free exercise thereof” to the issue at hand, I should like to submit to this committee what I may call the concept of the captive child. Many pupils of tender years attending public school have little or no religious training in the home, and are therefore unable to recognize or to discriminate among the prayers offered in the public schools. They are unable to make a judgment as to whether they want to participate in such prayers. Under our system of compulsory education, the child is required by law to attend public school, unless he desires or is able to attend an accredited parochial or private school. Children who attend public schools do so under compulsion of law. They have no choice in the selection of their teachers. They have no choice in the selection of their classmates, who may be of different religious faiths. In compelling the child to attend a public school, there is a basic violation of his constitutional right of association, which is, however, justified under the concept of public welfare, that is to say, the "balancing power” of the Constitution.
This justification, however, is valid only for the purpose of securing the child's secular education. Within the scope of this justification for Government involvement in secular education there can be no room for Government involvement in religious education through the addition of prayer to the secular curriculum or indeed through the introduction of any form of religious observance in the school program.
Such Government involvement in religious education could not possibly be construed as falling within the meaning of free exercise of religion. To impose upon the captive child-although his captivity is justified by the compelling and overriding purpose of guaranteeing his secular education any form of religious observance would mean to subject him even if only for a few moments to a denial of his religious freedom. If going to school were a voluntary deed, done with full knowledge of the secular and religious influences to which the child is exposed, it would be no abridgement of his religious freedom to introduce religious elements into the school program. Indeed, because he was attending voluntarily, he would in a way be exercising religious freedom. If he disagreed with any portion of the curriculum, secular or religious, he would have the freedom of choice to exercise his freedom of religion by absenting himself from the school.
Our children today do not have that freedom of choice about going to school. The child is not free to absent himself from school because he disagrees with any part of the curriculum. To guarantee freedom of religion, therefore, the