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sion. Certainly this little prayer isn't a great teaching of theology; it certainly is not; but it points to another dimension. When we leave all that out in the schools here or in public life we have a secularism by default, which is a position, not neutrality. There is no reason why this position should dominate all our public institutions, even though that is not what we intend and even though the secularist himself honestly thinks his position is neutral.
It is just as much an “ism” as the Seventh-day Adventism; it is an "ism”—a position. So that I feel our kind of “middle way”_without compelling anyone or destroying any particular position in our society—still has maintained the crankshaft of Western civilization as something which is pointed to or is suggested as part of our institutions. I think this is terribly important because I have the conviction that some of our basic constitutional structures and institutions do rest on doctrines of the Judeo-Christian heritage.
I believe that the doctrine of separation of powers and the system of checks and balances rests on the doctrine of original sin, meaning not that we should govern ourselves because we are all so good, but rather than man with power is so capable of being bad—because of the selfcentering tendency in man. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely, as Lord Acton reminded us.
I believe that our Bill of Rights itself rests upon the valuation of the individual in terms of his calling to eternal life; that the individual can last forever, and the Nation does not necessarily. Nations come and go; persons are called to eternal life and therefore, the individual is more important than the Nation.
Therefore, we put up with inconvenient people—bulls in the china shop. We recognize the right to be wrong. In the Soviet system, for example, with no such concept they have the priorities reversed. They believe that the Communist state is eternal and that the individual dies like a dog; and hence you shove people around and say "shape up or ship out”; you can "liquidate” them. Under their basic doctrine, that conclusion is logical.
Third, I believe that our conviction that there is a common source of conscience means that since there is a policeman in every heart and we needn't have a policeman on every block; we do feel there is some basis of reliable common life from a dimension other than a police state.
In the Soviet system they can only rely upon that kind of pressure to keep the people in line. We hope we can keep people in line through an internal spiritual source which points to the same author.
Not every American agrees with those views, but I do believe that the formation of our fundamental American institutions rests upon the fact that from the beginning our culture has been drenched with this kind of thinking and outlook.
Therefore, quite apart from advantage to sound religion, for the sake of the Nation and the continued holding on to these things I think our leaving these religious customs in our common life is as pointers which suggest this frame of reference, is quite fundamental.
Senator ScotT. It seems to me we have to avoid this problem of physics, the irresistible force of the belief in a supreme being but then The immovable object of the atheist who says there is no God.
Can we, in your opinion, say that your words respect the problem of the atheist?
Bishop PIKE. I believe we must respect the problem of the atheist and fortunately I am on record on that in my article in Coronet on “The Right To Be an Atheist.” The protection of the atheist or any other minority out of line with the Judeo-Christian tradition I think comes within the terms of the boundaries of these things. Suppose an atheist in this House feels it very strongly-I mean he isn't just a kind of lapsed Protestant or something; he really has a feeling about this.
Well, he certainly is not going to be present for the early Senate exercise with his head devoutly bowed in prayer. He would just skip out on it. Why should he go anyway? It is set up that way. I am not suggesting that our distinguished chairman's confession that he is not always there makes it possible to so describe him. But a lot of people are not in church every Sunday morning anyway.
So the voluntaryism is already operative in this area and anything which would interfere with that does raise serious questions.
For example, one of the things often cited to support the middle way is that there is the compulsory chapel program at West Point and Annapolis. I have never used that as an example because I think this is getting us in deep water. I am not sure that in the last analysis I could support that.
Suppose an atheist who wants to serve our country goes to one of the academies. I suspect that if it came to a court case, even under my proposed wording of the establishment clause, under the "free exercise" clause he would not be supported.
Senator SCOTT. You mean he does not believe in God but where the Navy is concerned, he believes in the Army; is that right? The compulsory chapel at West Point, you might have a man who does not believe in God, but as far as the Navy is concerned he believes in the Army.
You would not impose compulsory chapel upon him necessarily.
Bishop PIKE. No. In fact, I do not like compulsory chapels in institutions of higher education.
Senator SCOTT. I wish there were some way of providing a chaplain for the Supreme Court, but I do not know how many you would have to include. Perhaps if we added another member to the Court that would do it, and provided it would be a chaplain. You know, there is no provision that they be lawyers, as you know.
Bishop PIKE. I had not realized that.
Senator ROBERTSON. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, as all of you know, I find the study of our early American history a fascinating one.
I agree with Thomas Jefferson that if we are to interpret our Constitution correctly we must consider the times as they existed when it was written. As Ezekiel said when he was called to rule over Israel, “I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them 7 days."
When Jefferson drafted his bill establishing religious freedom in Virginia, it was to keep the Church of England from dominating the clergy in Virginia. It was to erect what has been since called a wall between the church and state which would prevent the state from taxing everyone to support a state-designated church.
I support what the distinguished Bishop has said. I think the Court has misconstrued the meaning of the first amendment. All Senator Stennis and I want is an appropriately worded amendment to make it crystal clear that the Supreme Court shall not go beyond the intention and meaning of those who framed that amendment, they intended the words "establishment of religion," to mean a religious sect or organization that we would call a church-Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, or what have you.
As to the history of the official recognition of the fact that we are a Christian nation, it is crystal clear to me the bishop is right. Although no specific provision in the Constitution relates to prayer, I am sure my colleagues on this committee will recall what took place when it looked like the Constitutional Convention was not going to agree on a plan for the protection of small States in the creation of a Senate, the small States being unwilling for the population test as applied in the House to apply to the Senate.
Benjamin Franklin rose and asked why has it not once occurred to us to ask the Father of Lights to illuminate our understanding? He made a motion that every future session be opened with prayer, which was adopted, and they were opened with prayer. Thereafter the Convention agreed on a Constitution which Gladstone said was— the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.
In the First Congress after Patrick Henry and James Mason, the author of our Bill of Rights had claimed that the Constitution did not fully protect the rights of the people, including religious freedom, Madison proposed 12 amendments, 10 of which were adopted. He wanted the first amendment to apply to the States, but as finally agreed upon, it was limited to Congress.
In the First Congress it was proposed to have Chaplains to open each session of the House and Senate with prayer.
Madison was on the committee that formulated that plan and, as the bishop said, he was on the board of regents of the University of Virginia when Mr. Jefferson wanted rooms in his University of Virginia, State built and State financed, to be set aside for religious exercises.
In 1877 a distinguished Congressman from Maine, James G. Blaine, got through the House an amendment to the Constitution which would have applied to the States the provisions of the first amendment dealing with religion. It was defeated in the Senate.
So I say all the history shows that we went the middle way. There would be no contribution to the establishment of a church; there would would be no prohibition against the free exercise of a man's conscience; but in that middle way we had many instances of public recognition that we had started out with a form of government based upon the teachings of the Bible, from the Ten Commandments where we got our Code of Criminal Laws.
From the Bible we also got our free enterprise system and we recognized that in the beginning.
We find public recognition of God in the opening of courts. There are prayers in the Senate and over one door of our Senate Chamber is the inscription “In God We Trust."
On another wall the inscription, “May God Smile Upon Our Enterprises."
We have the words "One Nation Under God” in our tribute to the
Ås Bishop Pike pointed out, “In God We Trust,” is stamped on our money.
In those ways we try to indicate to the world that we believe in a Supreme Being.
Benjamin Franklin said:
I have lived for a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of the fact that God governs in the affairs of men.
We want to preserve the separation of church and state, but we do not want to go down the broad highway of secularism.
Now, as to haste. The Washington Post says, “Why all the haste." The Roanoke Times says, “Why all the haste.” Well, there is something to the belief that the Supreme Court might back down. I agree with Senator Stennis that if it does not back down, it will use a pending Maryland case to overrule the recitation of the Lord's Prayer in the public schools. Involved in a Florida case are Easter and Christmas holiday, religious hymns, and religious paintings. Suppose all are ruled out? That would be in line with the views of Mr. Justice Douglas.
Suppose the Supreme Court goes ahead as Mr. Justice Douglas says it should. Three-fourths of the State legislatures meet next year. If Congress, instead of acting this year to give them the option of ratifying a constitutional amendment, waits until next fall to see what the Court is going to do, it will be 3 years before action on a constitutional amendment could be concluded.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Bishop Pike, I think you have sensed that all of us are very appreciative of the help you have given us.
If there is anything you care to add by way of conclusion you are welcome to do so.
Bishop PIKE. I would first thank the committee through its honorable and distinguished chairman for this opportunity. I care very much about all of this as you know, as a lawyer and as a clergyman, as an American, and as one who believes, as I am sure all of you do, that the finest fruit, the finest flower of the whole Judeo-Christian tradition has been the American way of life and in our characteristic institutions.
I want to see us preserve these institutions. I will say that this particular prayer and what will happen in this regard, in New York is not terribly crucial as such. I do not think the Kingdom of God will rise or fall on what happens in that regard.
I think the opinion of the Court, though it was drafted on narrow grounds, taken along with the other matters before us and that are coming up soon and the previous decision in the McCollum case, suggests that this characteristic “middle way” of ours is imperiled. Thus, I believe this to be a very grave and serious matter and that it ranks with many of the other things in our history where this distinguished committee has wrestled and worked to help keep us on the track.
I am very happy to have so small a part in this wrestling; and I am sure there is the desire to maintain our way of life in its fullness, with the protection of all minorities, and the avoidance of new and novel relationships.
We do want to maintain the separation of church and state. But we have never agreed to a separation of religion from society.
Senator HART. Thank you.
We are going to hear now from Members of Congress who have had an opportunity to come and be with us.
Senator KEATING. The first witness, one of the distinguished Members of Congress, Frank J. Becker, of New York. I know that he has a great interest in this problem. He has discussed it with me. He has made efforts in the House of Representatives to deal with this very vexing problem and we are very happy to hear first from Congressman Frank Becker, of New York.
Senator HART. We apologize for holding you so long, Mr. Becker.
STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK J. BECKER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. BECKER. Senator, I have sat at many hearings and know what you have to contend with.
I more than appreciate the opportunity and privilege to appear before you and I appreciate the remarks of my former colleague in the House and good friend, the Senator from New York, Senator Keating.
Senator KEATING. Mr. Chairman, I have to be on the floor and I will have to leave. I will read Congressman Becker's testimony with great interest because I know it will be very helpful.
Senator Scott. I would like, Mr. Chairman, to be associated with the remarks Senator Keating has just made also. I must leave as I am informed a colleague in the House of Representatives has interested himself in this and I have great admiration and respect for him and I am very happy that he has so interested himself in this serious problem.
Mr. BECKER. Thank you, Senator Scott. My statement will be very brief.
First, I would like to acknowledge the testimony of Bishop Pike here, and I think he did an excellent job in presenting the arguments in respect to the Constitution and Supreme Court decision.
While here I shall also advocate an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to permit prayer to Almighty God in public schools and all public places in the United States. On June 26, 1962, I introduced House Resolution 752, to amend the Constitution and I am submitting a copy of the resolution for the record. Senator HART. You may insert it in the record at this point. (H.J. Res. 752 follows:)
[H.J. Res. 752, 87th Cong., 2d sess.] JOINT RESOLUTION Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States
pertaining to the offering of prayers in Public schools and other public places in the United States
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution only if ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress :