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SHEA & GARDNER,
Washington, D.C., October 19, 1962. Senator JAMES 0. EASTLAND, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
MY DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: This is in reply to your letter of October 17, 1962. If possible, I would like to have printed as part of the transcript of the hearings on the resolutions regarding prayer in public schools my letter “TO the Editor" of June 27, 1962, a copy of which I previously have filed with the committee. Transmitted herewith is an additional, somewhat faint copy. I suggest that, by omitting the salutation and the “sincerely yours,” it could serve as a written statement on my part. Certainly it represents my views and my support of a proposed constitutional amendment. I thank you for the courtesy you have afforded me in this matter. Sincerely yours,
ALFRED L. SCANLAN.
SHEA & GARDNER,
Washington, D.C., June 27, 1962. To the EDITOR, Washington Post and Times Herald, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SIR: I should like to express some disagreement with the recent majority opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in Engel v. Vitale, decided Monday, June 25, 1962, wherein it was held that the voluntary recitation of a nondenominational prayer by public school children of the State of New York constituted an establishment of religion in violation of the first amendment of the Federal Constitution. My dissent is based on the same ground that the Court assigned in reaching the conclusion it did, i.e., the result constitutes governmental preference of certain religious sects as opposed to others.
It is too late for effective criticism of the Court's persistent reliance on a misreading of American constitutional history which has been discredited by sound scholarship. Professor Corwin and Professor Crosskey, among others, both eminent students of American constitutional history, have demonstrated the limited purposes which lay behind the nonestablishment clause of the first amendment, i.e., a prohibition was laid upon the new Federal Government against establishing a national religion and against affording any religion or religions a preferred status. As Professor Crosskey's recent monumental study of the antecedents of the Constitution conclusively documents, the nonestablishment clause of the first amendment "was deliberately drawn to create a field, not only of exclusive but of inviolable state power,” respecting religious establishments.
Again, it is too late in the day, I suppose, to argue that American history and tradition also irrefutably point toward a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court in the Engel case. Instances abound of Federal and State Government cooperation and assistance to religion and religious institutions. The presence of chaplains in the Congress of the United States and in the Armed Forces comes immediately to mind. "In God We Trust,” at least when I last looked, was still the motto on the coins being turned out at the mint, and, as dissenting Justice Potter Stewart has pointed out, the third stanza of our national anthem reads more like a prayer than a song. All this and much more supports the observation once made by the Supreme Court that "We are a religious people, whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being * * *.”
However, all of the above apparently are relegated to the category of overruled arguments. The Court must be met on its own ground. In this respect, we are forced to agree that the decision in Engel v. Vitale is the logical culmination of recent Supreme Court decisions interpreting the nonestablishment clause. However logical that result, it nevertheless appears that the Court may have painted itself into a corner. For purposes of argument, therefore, one can accept the Court's opinion in the Maryland test oath case, Torcaso V. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495. In that decision, the Court classified among religions in this country which are entitled to the protections established by the first amendment, the sects of Buddhism, Taoism, Unitarianism, ethical culture, secular humanism and others, including, I infer, agnosticism and atheism. Some of these sects or philosophies presuppose the nonexistence of a Supreme Being. According to their tenets, charity, honor, morality, good citizenship, patriotism, and ethics can be effectively instilled without reliance on the presumption of a diety. Their
philosophy and their tenets are propagated, consciously or unconsciously, in those public schools which attempt, and commendably so, to teach the above stated virtues in this manner, without reliance on or reference to those religions which teach that such virtues have their roots in belief of a divinity.
Thus, it appears, under the Court's own elastic definition of religion and religious sects, that the decision which confronted it in Engel v. Vitale involved a Hobson's choice. Which religious sector sects are to be preferred—those presuming the existence of a Divine Being, or those prefering the nonexistence of such a Being? The election, however unintentional, has been made to prefer those sects which forswear belief in a divinity or in the supernatural. One is entitled to observe, however, that the choice thus made on grounds of the Court's own making in the form of prior decisions and dicta is one which permits the nonestablishment clause to be violated in favor of the minority rather than sanctioning its violation in favor of the majority. I have always been opposed to substituting the legitimate protection of minority rights for the principle of majority rule. I therefore disagree with such misapplication of that principle in interpreting the nonestablishment clause as may have occurred in the Engel case.
However, what is done is done. All that the majority can do to protect against a Court-approved violation of the nonestablishment clause in favor of the minority sects is to attempt to secure the enactment of an amendment to the Constitution. I suggest one along the following lines :
"Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the United States, or any territory or possession thereof, or the States, from permitting the public invocation, recitation or statement of nondenominational, nonsectarian and noncompulsive prayers or references to Divine Providence, Nature's God, the Lord Almighty, or God, at public occasions, meetings, gatherings, school sessions, céremonies or holidays, whether the same be held on public or nonpublic property or facilities, including any public building of the United States, the States, or the political subdivisions and municipalities thereof." Sincerely yours,
ALFRED L. SCANLAN. BETHESDA, MD.
SEATTLE, WASH. To Whom It May Concern:
The Founding Fathers of these United States of America suggested "nature's God" in their attitude of sincerity for religious respect. (See the Declaration of Independence.)
If they wanted an, “Almighty God," as used in the so-called New York school prayer, they could have said so. If they wanted any of the many, many Gods of human ideologies, past, present, or future, these Founding Fathers could have made the choice of their convictions. They took "nature's God" as their foundation choice in wisdom. This is truly a nation of freedom in religious philosophies outside of this suggestion by the Founding Fathers.
The Supreme Court of these United States did not outlaw the word, "God," even if this word “God” is very much abused, misused, and could be expressed more intelligently in such wording as "natural universal power of creation.”
"Almighty," the very first word in the New York school prayer is incomprehensive, the words “all” and “mighty' are not natural teammates because they imply an excessive value even to the point of flattery. Such vain and egotistical assumption by the human mind is not the right form of sincerity in religious respect and is enough to outlaw the word in any form of religious freedom.
"Almighty," is denominational because it demands exclusive franchise in a set point of view, even if that denominational factor is within the construction of the word itself. This point outlaws a prayer wording which includes this obnoxious word in religious freedom.
"Almighty,” is a slang expression used by the uneducated for want of a more proper wording. “Almighty,” is dictatorial by the demand within itself for exclusive franchise without a time limit or vote of assurance in a democratical method. This point makes this word antisocial; all must bow down before such unreserved powers.
That anyone could thrust this word, compounded with the word “God," upon the mind of a child in the hope of teaching respect, when the mature mind cannot explain or understand the many complexities involved with such association, shows a lack of plain ordinary commonsense, in my opinion.
In all nature, there is no one almighty source of universal powers—each natural law is independent. Each in turn hands the product of creation over
to the next natural law in line. They all work together in or out of harmony with each other in a system of universal use, reuse, building, tearing down, and rebuilding over and over again, into the times of eternity. There is no magic forniula in nature's laws.
In their wisdom the Founding Fathers called this system of law "nature's God.” It is wise to not propose any religious ideology outside this comprehensive conclusion as laid down by these more intelligent minds in philosophical speculation. Truly,
Rt. Rev. LUCIUS LEEOTTO,
Universal Spiritual Assembly.
ALBANY JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL, INC.,
Albany, N.Y., July 25, 1962. Senator JAMES 0. EASTLAND, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: We understand that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on July 26 to consider various proposed constitutional amendments designed to overturn the Supreme Court decision in the New York State Regents' Prayer case.
The Albany Jewish Community Council wishes to express its strong opposition to any revision of the Bill of Rights of our Constitution which has the purpose of invalidating the recent decision of the Supreme Court in barring State-sanctioned prayer. We believe that tampering with the Bill of Rights would be inimical to the cause of religious freedom and the welfare of all Americans.
It is a matter of history that State-sanctioned prayers have resulted in the oppression of minority groups. Our first amendment, guaranteeing religious freedom and separation of church and state, has made it possible for the United States to escape much of the bitter religious conflict and sectarian strife that have divided other nations. The decision of the Supreme Court in the Regents' Prayer case has warded off an intrusion of religion upon the public school system which threatened the basic concept of the separation of church and state. We urge that our communication be made a part of the record of the hearing. Sincerely yours,
ALBERT FENSTER, President.
JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF METROPOLITAN DETROIT,
Detroit, Mich., July 23, 1962. Hon. JAMES 0. EASTLAND, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: This is written with reference to the hearings scheduled before the Judiciary Committee to consider proposals for amendment to the Constitution as an aftermath of the recent Supreme Court school prayer decision.
The Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Detroit and its member organizations are opposed to any amendment which would in any way weaken or diminish the guarantees set forth in the Bill of Rights. It is our belief that the burden of the proposed changes in this instance would undermine important safeguards to the flourishing and freedom of religion. Accordingly, such changes would inevitably contravene principles firmly established in American tradition.
We respectfully request that this expression of our opposition to a constitutional amendment be incorporated in the record of the scheduled hearing. Respectfully,
STANLEY J. WINKELMAN, President.
COMMUNITY RELATIONS BUREAU,
Kansas City, Mo., July 23, 1692. Hon. JAMES 0. EASTLAND, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: It comes as a shock that the august Senate Judiciary Committee should take seriously the recent attacks against the Supreme Court for defending the Bill of Rights and religious freedom. The latest announce
ment that you will conduct hearings to amend the Constitution and reduce the power and influence of our Bill of Rights is difficult to understand.
The President's suggestion that the Supreme Court's decision on the New York State regents' prayer in the public schools would stimulate a better appreciation of the responsibility that the home and the church bear, is indeed true. Several of my friends have begun to say a prayer of thanks each morning at home with their family as they recognize that the law of the land does not permit a government institution to coerce such activity. Religion is thus strengthened in the home where it flourishes best.
The Judiciary Committee might properly hold hearings which would help us understand the true service of the Supreme Court's decision toward religious freedom and the support of the Bill of Rights. It is regrettable that your hearings would provide a platform for those who would make a mockery of religious freedom and who have little use for the traditions which stem from the Supreme Court's decision upholding this great document in our Constitution.
I would appreciate it if you would make this letter part of the record of the hearings you plan to begin July 26. Sincerely yours,
ATLANTA, GA., July 25, 1692. Senator JAMES 0. EASTLAND, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.:
The Community Relations Committee of the Atlanta Jewish Community Council wishes to go on record endorsing the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the New York Regents' Prayer case. We believe that this decision safeguards individual rights and separation of church and state. We are opposed to any proposed constitutional amendments which would tamper with the basic American doctrine of religious liberty which was conceived by our Founding Fathers and made a part of our cherished American freedom. We request that this statement be made part of the record of the public hearing of the Judiciary Committee.
MAX M. CUBA, Chairman.
HARTFORD, CONN., July 25, 1692. Senator JAMES 0. EASTLAND, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.:
The Community Relations Committee of the Hartford Jewish Federation is opposed to all constitutional amendments designed to overturn the Supreme Court decision in the Regents' Prayer case. We feel that these proposed amendments represent an attack on both the Bill of Rights and Supreme Court. These constitutional safeguards have protected the liberties of all Americans for more than 175 years. In addition we are convinced that the decision is a fair and just one on its merits. We respectfully request that this telegram be made part of the hearings of the Judiciary Committee.
HARRY SILVERSTONE, Chairman.
JEWISH COMMUNITY RELATIONS COMMITTEE
Cincinnati, Ohio, July 24, 1962.
MY DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: The Jewish Community Relations Committee is deeply concerned to learn of your plans to begin hearings on a series of resolutions designed to invalidate the Supreme Court's recent School Prayer decision.
The Jewish Community Relations Committee has instructed me to inform you of our official position in reference to the U.S. Supreme Court decision concerned with the school prayer promulgated by the New York Board of Regents.
The Jewish Community Relations Committee, which reflects a cross section of opinion in the Jewish community, has carefully and deliberately studied the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Engel v. Vitale, and has adopted the following resolution :
The Cincinnati Jewish Community Relations Committee endorses the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Engel v. Vitale case which seeks to make 'high and impregnable' the wall of separation between church and state.
"This committee believes :
"(a) That prayer is a sacred and personal act and that religion with its many faiths has flourished freely and peacefully in America principally because adherence is voluntary and free of governmental interference;
“(6) That this decision has reinforced a basic American tradition inaugurated by our Founding Fathers, who insisted that religion was not the business of government;
"(c) That since our highest Court has ruled, its decision should be respected ;
“(d) That Americans will recognize that, in the long run, this decision is a victory for religion and for religious freedom, and will aid all beliefs. We welcome the statement of the President of the United States that this ruling should remind every American family that we can pray a good deal more at home, we can attend our churches' [and synagogues] 'with a good deal more fidelity, and we can make the true meaning of prayer much more important in the lives of all of our children.'"
It was the considered judgment of the Jewish Community Relations Committee that this expression of our view should be made available to you in the light of the proposed hearing and to make known our opposition to such resolutions in order to continue to assure our basic freedoms and the integrity of our Supreme Court. Respectfully,
CHARLES POSNER, Executive Director.
PROTESTANTS AND OTHER AMERICANS UNITED
Washington, D.C., July 20, 1962.
MY DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: We understand that you have scheduled a hearing regarding the recent Supreme Court decision on the New York regents' prayer for next Thursday, July 26, 1962, in the Judiciary Committee room on the second floor of the New Senate Office Building for 10:30 a.m.
We would like to have the official statement of our organization incorporated
ADELE A. PORTER,
STATEMENT OF PROTESTANTS AND OTHER AMERICANS UNITED ON THE NEW YORK
PUBLIC SCHOOL PRAYER DECISION BY THE U.S. SUPREME COURT
Protestants and Other Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (a national organization with members in 38 denominational, fraternal, and educational associations) hailed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on State prayers as a victory for church-state separation and a triumph for freedom of religion. The official statement was released today at the organization's national headquarters (1633 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, D.C.), by Glenn L. Archer, executive director.
The attempt by a group of New York public officials to prescribe a prayer for schoolchildren in that State has been pronounced unconstitutional by a 6 to 1 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. All persons who believe in prayer as the authentic thrust of the human spirit toward its Maker should welcome this decision. We predict that when the current wave of emotion has subsided the Court's decision in Engel v. Vitale will loom as a landmark of religious freedom.
The decision strikes down a law under which public officials in New York State sought to use the coercive processes of government to make a prayer of their own composing required for an important segment of the population. It is a rebuke to official religion in whatever form it may be imposed upon the American people. The Court did not outlaw prayer; it merely made prayer free of political limitation and control.