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ment of a religion, and is, therefore, unconstitutional. I feel that the Court "stepped off limits" in deviating from what many of us believe is its intent and its purpose.
The prayers that were offered in the public school were voluntary. No one was compelled to participate. They were nondenominational. They recognized the existence of God and recognized God as a Supreme Being and asked His blessing. Nothing else was involved.
This is not the first onslaught on our religious freedom and it will not be the last unless we put some safeguards in our Constitution so strong that it will be impossible for the present and future courts to stretch its meaning to a point of personal interpretation and beyond its true purpose.
In the early 1870's two organizations were founded, the Liberal League and the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism. They were founded to accomplish what the Supreme Court, knowingly or unknowingly, is well on the way toward accomplishing today. Some of the objectives of these societies were:
(1) That churches and other ecclesiastic property shall no longer be exempted from taxation.
(2) The employment of chaplains in Congress, in State legislatures, in the Navy and militia, and in prisons and all other institutions supported by public money be discontinued.
(3) All religious services sustained by the Government shall be abolished, and especially the use of the Bible in public schools, whether used as a textbook or as a book of religious worship, shall be prohibited.
(4) The judicial oath in the courts and all other departments of Government shall be abolished.
(5) The laws directly or indirectly enforcing the observance of Sunday as a Sabbath shall be repealed. There were other objectives but these are the basic ones. Our forefathers were able to handle the situation then, and I pray we will be able to handle it now. So far, however, the pattern is the same.
Already the Court has virtually outlawed Sunday as a day of worship, in a case involving the State of Maryland. It based its decision not on the principles of religion and morality, but on social and economic principles.
It has outlawed a reference to God in the official oath, also in the State of Maryland.
In a Maryland case, pending for a fall decision, the freedom to use the Bible in the public schools is in jeopardy.
Yes, gentlemen, the pattern is definitely the same. It is shocking and it is frightening:
An interrogating Russian officer told a captured American officer in Korea, “My country will never meet your country on the battlefield. It would be disastrous to both of us.
“In our lifetime my country will overcome your country by bleeding you white economically and destroying you morally."
I ask you, gentlemen, are we going to sit here and let that happen? I have a brief here going into more detail on this subject.
This brief was prepared by Hon. J. S. Bracewell, of Houston and Roans Prairie, Tex. He entitles it "A Little Prayer That Stirred a Nation.” I believe you will find it of interest.
Senator Hart. It will be placed in the record at this point.
(The brief follows:)
A LITTLE PRAYER THAT STIRRED A NATION
“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.”
This little prayer the U.S. Supreme Court says is unconstitutional. This opinion by the Supreme Court is causing as much controversy as its desegregation decision in Brown v. Maryland. The Brown case will be used to root out every form of segregation in any tax-supported institution in the United States. That is as it should be, although it came about by a quite strained interpretation of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court says to segregate the races in any tax-supported institution constitutes a denial of the equal protection of the laws. The New York Prayer case is based upon exactly the same principle of reasoning. That is to say, that if any State uses any of its tax revenues in any form to foster, recognize or encourage any religion, such will deny to all other citizens, whether religious or not, the equal protection of the laws and the interpretation will in the end be used to root out every reference to or recognition of religion, not only in our public schools, but in every other tax-supported institution in the country. In some States already the teachers have been forbidden to read the Bible or have any character of Christmas or Easter recognition in the schools. It will follow that the schools will be forbidden to make any recognition whatsoever of any religious event.
It seems that to be logical we will have to abandon "A.D." appearing on most of our legal documents for the simple reason that this recognizes that it is done “in the year of our Lord.”
The Liberal League was established in 1873. There was also organized in 1876 the American Secular Union and Free Thought Federation, the president of which was Robert V. Ingersoll, one of the most noted atheists of all time. There was another organization about the same time entitled "The Four A's” the same being the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism. These adopted with little change the same principles. There were nine demands in Ingersoll's organization which we think it appropriate to call attention to.
“1. We demand that churches and other ecclesiastic property shall no longer be exempted from just taxation.
“2. We demand that the employment of chaplains in Congress, in State legislatures, in the Navy and militia, and in prisons, asylums and all other institutions supported by public money shall be discontinued.
"3. We demand that all public appropriations for sectarian, educational and charitable institutions shall cease.
“4. We demand that all religious services now sustained by the Government shall be abolished; and especially the use of the Bible in the public schools, whether ostensibly as a textbook, or avowedly as a book of religious worship, shall be prohibited.
“5. We demand that the appointment by the President of the United States or the Governors of the various States, of all religious festivals and feasts shall wholly cease.
“6. We demand that the judicial oath in the courts and in all other departments of the Government, shall be abolished, and that simple affirmation under pains and penalties of perjury shall be established in its stead.
"7. We demand that all laws directly or indirectly, enforcing the observance of Sunday as a Sabbath shall be repealed.
“8. We demand that all laws looking to the enforcement of Christian morality shall be abrogated, and that all laws shall be conformed to the requirement of natural morality, equal rights, and impartial liberty.
“9. We demand that not only in the Constitution of the United States and of the several States, but also in the practical administration of the same, no privilege or advantage shall be conceded to Christianity or any other special religions; that our entire political system shall be founded and administered on a purely secular basis; and that whatever changes shall prove necessary to this end shall be consistently, unflinchingly, and promptly made.” (Stokes "Church and State," vol. III, p. 593).
It would seem that a majority of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Hugo Black, is traveling in the direction of all of these very principles promulgated by Ingersoll and his associates over 80 years ago. The Court virtually outlawed Sunday as a national day of worship in its recent decision upholding the Sunday laws of the State of Maryland, because it based its decision, not upon principles of religion and morality, but upon economic and social principles. It has outlawed reference to God in an official oath prescribed likewise by the State of Maryland. It has gone far toward the outlawing of all teaching of religion in the public schools under the release-time plan whereby religion is taught not by the teacher but by pastors of the children in attendance upon the schools.
It has now outlawed the recitation of a simple prayer as a part of the opening exercises of the public schools of the country. There is pending before the Court and will be decided in the fall term a case dealing with the reading of the Bible in the public schools and also dealing with any religious exercises whatsoever, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. In view of the fact that the School Prayer case was decided by a 6 to 1 majority, it is easy to see that the exponents of this atheist philosophy will make virtually a clean sweep in establishing in our governmental system all of the atheistic principles of Ingersoll and his associates.
It would seem that it boils down to a question of whether our Government in all of its facets must be absolutely neutral as to all religious beliefs, nonChristian as well as Christian, and even neutral as to those who profess atheism as their creed. If the Supreme Court is headed in the direction of making all phases of the Government absolutely neutral as between professors of Christianity, and those who believe in God, as against those who are antagonistic to and would destroy these beliefs, a Christian people, and others who hold to the Christian-Judiastic teachings of both the Old and New Testaments, should recognize that fact and do what they can to counteract it in such manner as will enable them to preserve Christianity, as being the basic ideal in our way of life. All would agree that no governmental agency should be allowed to discriminate in favor of any religion or be in any manner circumscribed in maintaining absolute freedom of religion within the terms and meaning of the Constitution, bearing in mind always, that this is a Christian nation and that was one of Christ's teachings.
That we are not dealing wholly within the realm of speculation and something that probably will never happen is shown by the concurring opinion of Justice W. 0. Douglas. He and Justice Black who wrote the majority opinion of the Court have been yoke fellows in much of the liberal philosophy developed by the Supreme Court. Apparently the other five of the majority of the Court were not willing to go as far as Justice Douglas wanted to go and he wrote a separate concurring opinion, but they did not oppose his view. He pointed out that the entire State and Federal Governments are honeycombed with church financing, and among these, he listed government aid to religious related institutions, including reduced postage rates for religious publications, compulsory chapel attendance at the armed services academies, all income tax deductions for church and charitable institutions, the use of “In God We Trust" on the coinage, and the words “Under God" in the pledge of allegiance.
He further chided his brothers of the Court for opening the Supreme Court sessions with a prayer which closed “God save the United States and This Honorable Court." He also referred to the opening of Congress with prayers, the opening of the legislatures with prayers and there is a broad implication in his dissent that anybody on the public payroll of either the State or Federal Government should be forbidden to utter a public prayer, because to that extent the Government is financing a religious exercise.
Under this view of the case, President Roosevelt when he led the Nation in a nationwide radio prayer to God for guidance during some of the stress and strain of World War II violated the Constitution of the United States. Also, it will be recalled that President Dwight D. Eisenhower after he had taken the oath of office invited the audience and the Nation at large to join him in a prayer to God for guidance and for His protecting care for his administration. Of course, many other instances may be pointed out where the Presidents of the United States engaged in prayer and other activities that would be calculated to influence the people at large in their religious thinking and religious activities.
Chancellor Kent who had been chief justice of the Supreme Court of New York and who wrote "Kent's Commentaries” was probably the greatest lawyer that America has produced. In the case of Lindenmuller v. People (33 Barb (N.Y.) 548), he made this striking statement illustrating how far the Judges of our present Supreme Court are now departing from the principles laid down by those who founded the Republic. He said:
“It would be strange that a people, Christian in doctrine and worship, many of whom or whose forefathers sought these shores for the privilege of worshiping God in the simplicity and purity of faith, and who regarded religion as a basis of their civil liberty, and the foundation of their rights, should in their zeal to secure to all the freedom of conscience which they valued so highly, solemnly repudiate and put beyond the pale of the law, the religion which was dear to them as life, and dethrone the God, who, they openly and avowedly profess to believe had been their protector and guide as a people.”
One of the landmarks of the U.S. Supreme Court in elucidating the doctrine of separation of church and state, and showing that a recognition that belief in Christianity and God was at the very foundation of our Government and that the recognition of this fact did not do violence to the doctrine of separation of church and state, was the case Church of the Holy Trinity v. the United States, decided in 1891 (143 U.S., p. 457). The opinion was written by Justice David J. Brewer and was concurred in by every member of the Court. It said:
"No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, State or National, because this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of the continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation."
And again, after enumerating the many, many instances where the Government recognizes the Deity and the permeation of the entire American people with religious sentiments, the opinion proceeds, “There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings or declarations of private persons; they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people. While because of a general recognition of this truth, the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find in the case of Updegraph v. Commonwealth (11 S. & R. 394), it was decided that “Christianity, general Christianity, is and always has been a part of the common law of Pennsylvania ; not Christianity with an established church and ties and spiritual courts; but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men."
And further after an extended enumeration showing that this whole Nation was founded on and was permeated by belief in God and the principle of Christianity, the Court makes this declaration :
“These, and many other matters which might be noted add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation. In the face of all these, shall it be believed that a Congress of the United States intended to make it a misdemeanor for a church of this country to contract for the services of a Christian minister residing in another nation."
Of course, if it is a violation of the Constitution of the United States for schoolteachers and officials to lead the children in a simple prayer such as that given above, it might be lawfully made a criminal offense, and the ridiculousness of the situation can only be imagined by such a law having been passed and some dedicated schoolteacher being prosecuted for leading her children in the utterance of the simple little prayer above stated.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulties."
And again in the second inaugural address, he said, “That this Nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Calvin Coolidge said, "Whatever inspires and strengthens the religious belief and religious activities of the people, whatever ministers to their spiritual life is of supreme importance. Without it, all other efforts will fail. With it lies the only hope of success. The strength of our country is the strength of its religious convictions."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt in addressing a session of Congress on nazism and fascism which were threatening to engulf Europe, said :
“An orderly society which relegates religion, democracy, and good faith among nations to the background can find no place within it for the ideals of the Prince of Peace. The United States rejects such an ordering and retains its ancient faith.
“There comes a time in the affairs of men when they must prepare to defend not their homes alone, but the tenets of faith and humanity upon which their churches, their governments, and their very civilization are founded. The defense of religion, of democracy, and good faith among nations is all the same fight. To save one, we must now make up our minds to save all."
On and on we might go, quoting from the leaders who have made this country great, all to show that the Supreme Court has made a most radical departure from the course on which this Nation was set by its Founding Fathers.
The decision must be interpreted in the light of the opinion of the Supreme Court of New York reported in 191 NYS, 2d, page 453. The school authorities were following the same practice of opening their schools with prayer for 120 years. Strange that none of the great lawyers of that State, such as Root, Hughes, and Cardozo, saw fit to try to stop such an illegal practice.
In 1951, the board of regents, corresponding to our State board of education, recommended that the little prayer in controversy be said in connection with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, “as an act of reverence to God.”
The school board of New York adopted the recommendation in 1958, but unfortunately worded their resolution in mandatory terms with the statement “that the regents' prayer be said daily in our schools," with the direction “to the district principal that this be instituted as a daily procedure to follow the salute to the flag."
We think it fairly evident that the school board as well as the Court recognized that a prayer could not be forced on anyone as an officially directed prayer, compulsory on all. Looking at the 120-year-long history of prayers in New York schools, and the numerous rulings thereon to the effect that they could not be requ either in recitation or attendance, it is unthinkable that the school board ever intended it other than as permissive. At any rate the Court held: “That while the board may authorize, it may not require the saying of the prayer in question, but that if it does so, it must bring the authorization to the attention of the parents of children in the schools, establish a procedure for excusing nonparticipation, not only from saying the prayer but from the room, if they so elect, and take affirmative steps to protect the religious freedom of both nonparticipants and participants” (id. 463).
Now this is in strict accord with the century-long policy of New York, and it is the policy outlawed by the Supreme Court. A lot is said about the prayer having been composed by governmental officials. The record doesn't say who composed it. The regents merely recommended it. But suppose they did. Are we going to say that the prayers of Presidents Roosevelt and Eisenhower above referred to were unconstitutional merely because they were composed by the highest officials?
The Court says its action is not hostile to religion. The Court must expect the American people to interpret this statement in the light of its action in the Everson, McCollum, Sunday Closing, Official Oath cases, all pointing to the fact that the Court is going in the Ingersoll direction.
The decision of the Court may be a blessing in disguise. It may be that it will stir the people of this Nation to reexamine its foundation and cause a rededication to the principles which have made it great. Justice Potter Stewart wrote a short but unanswerable dissenting opinion which we would do well to study. It may point the way. That a reversal of the Court's opinion is not impossible is shown by the case of Gobitis v. West Virginia. There the Supreme Court had held that a little child of the Jehovah Witnesses might be expelled from school because it refused on religious grounds to salute the flag as a part of the school exercises during World War I.
There was one lone disssenter in that case, the eminent Justice Harlan F. Stone, who later became Chief Justice. He stood out against every member of the Court in showing that the decision was wrong and abridged the child's religious freedom. A few short months worked a great change. One of the Justices died; others changed their opinions, and within a little more than 1 year the same question came before the Court in the case of Barnett v. West Virginia, and this time the Court reversed itself and followed the dissenting opinion of Justice Stone. Let us hope that the storm of opposition in this case may persuade the Court to reexamine Justice Stewart's dissenting opinion.
If the Supreme Court continues to travel the pathway of Bob Ingersoll and his associates as outlined above, we do not doubt that it will cause a tremendous increase in parochial schools of all of the denominations and that they will grow to the extent of possibly undermining the public school system itself. Having their children grow up in humble recognition of the existence of an all-powerful Supreme Being who directs all of our ways of life is something dearer to the people than even the public school system itself.