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Senator HATCH. Now, our last witness here on this panel is Reverend Paul Weaver of Vermont.
If you could conclude in just a few minutes, I would appreciate it.
STATEMENT OF REV. PAUL WEAVER, TRINITY BAPTIST CHURCH,
ROUTE 2-A, WILLISTON, VT Reverend WEAVER. Thank you, Senator Hatch, for the privilege.
For 35 years I spent my life in parsonages. My dad was a pastor. Now I have been one for 14 years. I have watched the change in attitude toward religion, the relationship between Government and the church break down. In the fifties, I saw a friendly relationship, neutralized perhaps in the sixties and seventies, becoming in many ways an adversary relationship in the eighties, which is to my dismay.
We are law-abiding citizens. We love this country as much as anyone. I find myself on a July 4th now standing and watching the parade of our little town and wondering how long our freedoms will hold out. Where as a young child, I stood there with great hope for the future in these matters.
There indeed is religious intolerance in Government circles today. We have been fortunate in our State to have a good State supreme court and legislature who have dealt successfully with two of our problems and put them to rest because there were some brave individuals who were willing to deal with the issues as they really were; that religious liberty issues were involved with educational matters. But what distresses me most I suppose is the events of this past weekend in our own State, and by Executive order and promulgation, a group of 90 State troopers and 50 social workers descended upon one of our small towns. In that town was a church that has been described by many as cultic, one that certainly I do not hold beliefs in common with, but people who have precious religious guarantees under our Government. And they came into the town and they came into the homes, they took 112 children. Their hope and purpose was to detain the children for 3 days to investigate the possibilities of child abuse, allegations that have been made for a number of years, but none that have been proven, none that have held up in courts, that have held up with records. They were going to detain 112 children for 3 days.
Fortunately, the judge would not allow it, Judge Frank Mahady would not allow it. They had a Burke Mountain school set aside to take these young people, psychiatrists there, ready, medical doctors there ready to examine these children and to take them perhaps permanently away from their parents. These children were removed from their homes with breakfast muffins in their mouths. The wives were wakened up with flashlights in the privacy of their own beds and their homes, the men were taken off without any concern over the care of their property and without any general concern I believe for their religious liberty.
For one of the first times, I have seen the religious community and adversarial organizations within our State come together in agreement on this particular thing. When you see the ACLU and the Christian school group get together on the last three issues that have occurred in the State of Vermont, you know there must be something going on, there must be some religious liberty problems. When you see the conservative and liberal churches alike getting into the act together, whereas for so much time there was so much sleepiness on the part of many church leaders, you know something is happening to our country.
But, most of all, I think from a personal point of view, I do not try to be an expert here, there is that internal turmoil that is going on in the hearts and minds of many of our good people who pay their bills, who pay their taxes, who love this country, who are raising children to be solid citizens, a fear of what the future really holds in light of some of the events that have occurred.
I thank you for this opportunity.
In my opening statement, I went off the prepared text, I referred to the matter that Reverend Weaver has referred to in saying that I would hope that both our system of constitutional government and our belief in the first amendment would allow that matter to be straightened out.
Mr. Chairman, again I appreciate and I am indebted to you for your courtesy in allowing Reverend Weaver to testify. I thought it was a matter of significant importance and he was concerned enough to make a special trip down here. He is not a man who takes these issues lightly. He and I thought that it was important that he speak.
In part of your testimony, Dr. Hill, you said do not fear religion, and I agree with you. I hope that we would never have a time in the United States of America where we would fear religion. But those who represent religion, whatever it might be, should never allow their belief and their faith that they have found the one truth to allow or compel them to seek conformity from those who they feel have not found the truth.
In other words, if we feel that we have found the truth, let us never allow that belief, that faith, no matter how strongly held, to bring us to require others, or force them to conform to what we have found as a truth. And I am not suggesting, sir, that you meant that at all. I have said throughout my life as a law student, as a lawyer, my public career as a prosecutor, as a U.S. Senator, that the most important part of our Constitution is the first amendment. Because it guarantees the freedom of religion and it guarantees the freedom of speech. And any country that will guarantee both those-and truly guarantee them-will never fail, will never fail.
The freedom of religion means freedom to all, not just those who agree with our own religious beliefs. If one's beliefs are true and strong, they are going to survive without the enforced conformity to other's beliefs. Whether they are forced through peer pressure, economic pressure, or so on. If our own beliefs are true and strong, they are going to survive-they are going to survive. Let us never forget that. Never let us seek enforced conformity, and let us, above all else in this country, uphold the first amendment.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We have had, it seems to me, a number of very eloquent remarks made here this day, not the least of which are the remarks of my dear friend and colleague, Senator Leahy here at the conclusion of this hearing
I think also one of the things that has dawned on me repeatedly throughout this hearing happens to be that we all have a obligation to be more tolerant. All of us have an obligation to combine together in the best interests of this country. I have never seen an issue since I have been in the U.S. Senate which has brought more diverse groups of people together then this particular issue, than this particualr hearing. Some of the most intolerant statements made in our society over the last 8 years, while I have been a Member of the U.S. Senate, have been made ocassionally by religious leaders against other religious leaders I think that is an important aspect too that we who believe in religion have tolerance for the viewpoints and feelings of others who also believe in religion, albeit not our own.
I think that what has happened here today is that we have had people from diverse religious points of view come together in the best interests of this country and in the best interest of the first amendment.
I might add that I might be remiss if I do not agree with Senator Leahy that the first amendment really is the cornerstone of all of the privileges that some of us take for granted each day, and which it takes good religious leaders to articulate so that we do not take them for granted.
I think we have had some wonderful, wonderful testimony here today from our constitutional experts to our religious leaders. Everybody who has testified, it seems to me, has added something to this hearing. And I just want to personally compliment all of you. I hope that in some of these cases that we will get reason in American, that we will become more reasonable in America.
I really hate to see where there are legitimate disputes that any religious leader is placed in prison. I agree with Reverend Bergstrom that if religious leaders commit heinous crimes or major criminal crimes they should have to pay just like anybody else. But where are legitimate disputes and where the matters arise out of the expression of religious beliefs, regardless of the differences, I hate to see this type of treatment accorded to any citizen and any minister in our society, or any priest.
I am extremely impressed with what we heard here today. I think we will probably need to continue these hearings. This is a time in our country's life where it is at a threshold and, I might add, a crossroads of where we go from here.
I would like to see religious freedom expanded, preserved, cherished, and sanctified in our society more than it has been over the intervening number of decades. And I think to that extent the witnesses here today have certainly helped. And I just hope that we can hear from all of you as to what other types of hearings you would like to hear in this area. I would like to be able to help provide them so that all of us will think a little more clearly, a little more significantly, a little more sincerely about these very profound religious concepts, very profound religious considerations that really we need to think of continually if we want to keep this
country the greatest country in the world and the freest of all nations.
With that, we will recess until further notice.
[Whereupon, at 1:42 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
ADDITIONAL SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
Casey. Scott & Canfield, PC.
SUPPLEMENTAL SUBMISSIONS OF SUN MYUNG MOON
420 Washington Building Alttorneys at Law
1455 G Street. N. W
Washington, D. C. 20005 August 13, 1984
Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
Dear Mr. Chairman:
The enclosed analysis of the record of the trial of Reverend Sun Myung Moon is submitted on behalf of the Unification Church of America in order to address various issues raised during the June 26, 1984, hearings of the Subcommittee concerning Religious Liberty in the United States.
Recently, it has been suggested that Reverend Moon's testimony at your hearing "totally misstated what was involved in the prosecution." We believe that the enclosed memorandum presents a fair and objective description of what happened in Reverend Moon's prosecution, using quotations from seven thousand pages of trial transcripts.
We appreciate this opportunity to contribute to consideration of an issue most important to the majority of Americans religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution. We also are thankful for the very helpful and thoughtful consideration extended by your staff.
Edward F. Canfield
Dee Benson, Esq.