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Many of the denominations have launched extensive studies of church-state relations, of which the current problem is one aspect. Among these are the Methodist Church, the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Baptist bodies are cooperating in such studies through the Baptist Joint Council, and the National Lutheran Council has such studies underway for its constituents. State and city councils of churches are participating in similar studies.

I anticipate that the recent Supreme Court decision and your current legislative proposals and hearings will provide added stimulus to such studies. Any proposal to amend the Bill of Rights will surely warrant full consideration by the American people, and church people will have a particular interest in any proposal affecting the guarantees of religious freedom embedded in the first amendment.

I thank you for your interest in and consideration of points of view in the National Council of Churches.

EXTRACTS FROM STATEMENTS OF DENOMINATIONAL BODIES FILED IN RESPONSE

TO REQUEST JULY 5, 1962, FOR INFORMATION OF ACTIONS DEALING WITH ISSUES OF RELIGION AND PUBLIC EDUCATION

On July 5, 1962, General Secretary Roy G. Ross of the National Council of Churches made inquiry of constituent denominations as to whether any action had been taken during the past 10 years by the plenary bodies of the denominations "which would deal with issues of religion and public education on which have implications for such issues.” Relevant items of which notice has thus far been received include the following:

A. THREE COMMENTS ON THE REGENTS' PRAYER DECISION

1. African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Board of Bishops, July 1962:

"Most of us came up in a public school system that permitted prayer every morning. It is therefore prohibitive for us to understand or sympathize with the recent Supreme Court decision denying the privilege of prayer in public schools.

"If we are to be governed by the majority opinion in this country, the Protestant opinion is certainly that, and it is undemocratic to deny the majority influence of a country for the opinion of the minority. Gradually religious privilege has been proscribed and segregated in favor of minorities in the name of democracy. It is not apparent that anybody's privilege is denied by prayer in the public schools.

“The contention of parents of these minorities that the State had not constitutional rights to direct the use of prayer in the public schools, or to order recitation of a particular prayer because these were actions of official agencies of government, were in violation of the amendment to the Constitution which provides that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion'; this being made applicable to the State government by the process clause of the 14th amendment, it seems to us, is beside the question.

"The simple prayer: ‘Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country,' has invaded no rights of any true religion. Every religion acknowledges a Supreme Deity or a universal principle to whom or to which all of them pray; one meaning, by 'Almighty God,' a person, the other meaning the principle of love. It is the same practice of using the Bible as a composite symbol of religion in taking the oath of office or the oath of testimony in courts. We might as well deny the President the right to use the Bible for taking his oath of office as to deny opening minds of undirected children the right to call God's name in the dedication of their unfolding lives or wishing and beseeching divine help upon themselves, their parents, teachers, and country from a power beyond all of us, which cannot be perfectly defined by any of us.

“The Supreme Court, we feel, missed its way when it sought itself to become an interpreter of religious meanings through the political crucible. God is above politics and laws, both of man's making and of nature's unfolding. All our efforts of realizing Him may be definitive in a million ways by individuals and groups, but in faith's assumption it is one grand effort of us all to implore one great source and reality of supernatural help whatever may be the terms and theology of the small units. It does not affect true faith of anybody to have one universal faith to which the whole creation and the whole human race moves. “Our Nation will miss the way if she does not permit her children to look upward and outward beyond human strength and wisdom together. It is this togetherness in religion that will make a people one, and as long as we teach that God is atomistic, so long will it be impossible to teach people to believe that they are 'one nation indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.''

2. The Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, 1962 :

*The Congress of the Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate of America is seriously concerned with the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington that invoking the name of God in public schools is unconstitutional.

“Subscribing fully to the principle of separation of church and state, the Congress, nevertheless, cannot accept the idea of the separation of our country in its public life from God.

“A nation 'under God’ cannot be prohibited to express this fundamental principle just because an individual or a small minority who do not believe in God will be offended."

3. United Church of Christ, Council for Christian Social Action, Nashville, Tenn., July 10, 1962:

“STATEMENT ON THE SUPREME COURT DECISION INVOLVING THE NEW YORK REGENTS'

PRAYER (ENGEL V. VITALE)" “The Council for Christian Social Action of the United Church of Christ declares its support of the U.S. Supreme Court in its decision in Engel v. Vitale for the following reasons:

"1. The decision upholds the principle of church-state separation. The CCSA believes that because the New York State regents' prayer was created, adopted, and administered by State officials and used as a religious exercise in the public schools, it violated the establishment clause of the first amendment of the Federal Constitution. The fact that the prayer was nondenominational and its recitation voluntary does not alter the fact that the State prescribed a particular form of prayer to be used as an official prayer in a program of governmentally sponsored religious activity. Thus the State was carrying out a function which is not its business to perform.

"2. We believe that the responsiblity for religious education and worship belongs to the church and home where it can be most effectively performed. Significant prayer is an expression of deep religious faith and conviction which cannot in a public school setting appropriately be expressed corporately where there is a wide variety of belief and unbelief.

“3. There is nothing in the decision which bans private prayer. Nor is there anything in the decision which restricts teaching about the contributions religious leaders, movements, and ideas have made in the shaping of our history and culture and we would encourage the public school to do this more effectively.

“The CCSA calls upon the members of our churches to support the Supreme Court decision. It urges those concerned about the spiritual development of children to use and improve the opportunities for religious training in the church and the home and not look to other agencies to do the job.”

B. OTHER STATEMENTS ADOPTED PRIOR TO THE DECISION

1. American Baptist Convention, Philadelphia, Pa., 1962:

"RESOLUTION, CHURCH AND STATE (a) Because of persistent efforts by sectarian groups to break down the separation of church and state, we reaffirm and urge continued study of the convention resolutions adopted in 1960 and 1961 entitled, 'Separation of Church and State,' which proclaim that the separation of church and state is central to our American heritage. * * *" American Baptist Convention, Portland, Oreg., June 17, 1961:

"RESOLUTIONS, 62. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE' "We proclaim that separation of church and state is central to our American heritage; that it has made possible a measure of freedom not previously achieved under any other system ; that it is indispensable to our national policy of equal rights for all religions and special privileges for no religion.

"They are separate in their function as well as in their support. Government being under public control is properly financed by taxation. Membership in

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religious institutions and organizations is voluntary, and therefore should be supported by voluntary contributions. We believe that the use of tax money for support of religious groups is in opposition to the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

"We declare that this principle does not mean that the state is indifferent to the church, nor that the church is unconcerned for the state. It means rather that church and state are separate in their institutional life, and that neither controls the other.

"We affirm that public education is the birthright of every American child, and that support of such public education is the responsibility of every American. We observe that such support is indispensable to responsible citizenship as support of public roads, public welfare, police protection, and other obligations of society as a whole.

“We recognize the right of churches and other organizations and groups to establish private schools in the interest of spiritual, moral, or other objectives which they believe cannot be accomplished satisfactorily with the framework of the public school system. We insist, however, that the support of such private schools is solely the responsibility of their respective constituencies and is in no way a public obligation. We object strenuously, therefore, to any proposal that the public be taxed to pay for the special sectarian or other purposes for which particular groups establish private schools.

"We call upon our churches, educational agencies, colleges and universities, and parochial schools to study thoroughly their own present involvement in matters relating them to the State and tax funds. We urge disciplined thought, study, and action to maintain clearly the principle of separation of church and state and to withstand the dangers that first tend to blur and then compromise this historic American and Baptist position.

“We object strenuously, therefore, to any proposal that taxes or borrowing power be used to make grants or loans to sectarian or church-related schools. We emphasize that the use of Government finances in support of any sectarian purpose is a violation of basic religious liberties for it coerces citizens to support religious objectives which many of them cannot conscientiously approve."

American Baptist Convention, Rochester, N.Y., June 7, 1960 :

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“RESOLUTION, -2. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE “We reaffirm the Baptist stand for religious freedom and separation of church and state, granting unto all people the right to worship God according to the dictates of one's conscience and maintaining separate control of church and state.

“We express our belief in the principles of public school education and commend to our churches a new and continuing inquiry into the preservation and development of a strong system of public school education, and urge the study of, and action in opposition to, forces that may make this preservation difficult.”

2. Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) International Convention, General Assembly, Miami, Fla., October 25–31, 1954, Resolution 57 :

** * * we affirm our continued adherence to the American principle of separation of church and state, and to the principle that public funds for education should be used for only public education and that we record our unalterable opposition to the use of any public funds for schools conducted under religious or sectarian auspices.”

International Convention of the Disciples of Christ, General Assembly, September 28-October 3, 1956, Resolution 65:

** * * The place of religion in the public schools also is under constant discussion. Some say the religious heritage of America should be recognized and included in our public school curriculum. Others assert that there should be no teaching of religious education. We support the idea of treating the study of religion from an historical point of view as we do the study of any other phase of our culture. It should be accorded full recognition in the curriculum on the grounds that to omit it is to omit an integral part of our American tradition. * * *"

The trustees of the United Christian Missionary Society (Disciples) June 19–20, 1962, adopted a resolution which will be carried to the next general assembly asking for a “Call to Responsible Study of the Issues of Religion and Public Education.” That resolution

Affirms that education of children and youth is a responsibility of the family, the church, the school, and the community;

Expresses its deep appreciation and continuing support for the high quality and democratic characteristics of the public education system ;

Declares its belief in the principle of voluntary support for churches and church-sponsored programs. 3. Church of the Brethren, Annual Conference, Long Beach, Calif., June 2025, 1961 :

“6. We foresee continuing attempts to breach the constitutional wall of separation between church and state. We therefore urge upon all our members their responsibility under Christian vocation to resist any further efforts on the part of religious bodies to gain access to gifts of public funds for educational purposes. In particular we warn against perils of freedom of policy, curriculum, and personnel in schools and colleges. We also warn against governmental policies which may tend to give privileged position to any particular religious body. Finally, we believe that all religious persuasions flourish best when their support, either generally or in connection with any particular institutional arm, comes from sources which do not imperil their freedom."

4. Church of God, General Ministerial Assembly, Anderson, Ind., 1961 :

A RESOLUTION

“Whereas there has been wide discussion in the public press and in the current session of the Congress of the United States concerning the issue of granting Federal funds to education; and

"Whereas there are many facets of this issue which are of particular concern to the churches of America : Therefore, be it

"Resolved, That we, the General Ministerial Assembly of the Church of God, and in annual session in Anderson, Indiana, this day of June 1961, do hereby express the following convictions regarding the use of Federal tax funds for education :

“1. We reaffirm our confidence in and our support of the public school system as an indispensable means of providing educational opportunity for all children; we recognize the great problems now being faced by the public schools and urge provision for increased resources for the operation and improvement of these public schools within a framework of proper safeguards.

“2. We oppose any grants from Federal, State or local tax funds for the operation and support of nonpublic elementary and secondary schools.

*3. We are concerned that the historic principle of separation of church and state be maintained and promoted and urge all branches of government to avoid any infringement of the ideal of religious liberty which would inevitably arise when taxes paid under compulsion by all the people are used to aid nonpublic schools * * * »

5. The Methodist Church, General Conference, San Francisco, 1960, adopted the following resolution confirming an earlier one adopted in 1956 :

"PARAGRAPH 2028. RELIGION AND THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES

"The Methodist Church is committed to the public schools as the most effective means of providing common education for all our children. We hold that it is an institution essential to the preservation and development of our true democracy. But our public schools are hard pressed. Public tax funds, in increasing sums, are diverted to sectarian schools. Opponents of the public schools call the schools “godless" while at the same time legal restrictions are placed upon the recognition of religion in the schools. It is time for the friends of the public schools to be alert to this situation and to be active in their support.

“We desire to cooperate with educational leaders in achieving the highest functioning of the American public school system in terms of the intellectual and moral development of the pupils and the enrichment of the national life. We therefore call upon our people: (1) to acquaint themselves with the program and problems of the public school and to do all they can to encourage and strengthen the work of teachers and administrators, and (2) to present to our ablest youth the spiritual and public service opportunities of public school teaching as a vocation.

“We are unalterably opposed to the diversion of tax funds to the support of private and sectarian schools. In a short time this scattering process can destroy our American public school system and weaken the foundations of national unity.

religious institutions and organizations is voluntary, and therefore should be supported by voluntary contributions. We believe that the use of tax money for support of religious groups is in opposition to the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

“We declare that this principle does not mean that the state is indifferent to the church, nor that the church is unconcerned for the state. It means rather that church and state are separate in their institutional life, and that neither controls the other.

“We affirm that public education is the birthright of every American child, and that support of such public education is the responsibility of every American. We observe that such support is indispensable to responsible citizenship as support of public roads, public welfare, police protection, and other obligations of society as a whole.

“We recognize the right of churches and other organizations and groups to establish private schools in the interest of spiritual, moral, or other objectives which they believe cannot be accomplished satisfactorily with the framework of the public school system. We insist, however, that the support of such private schools is solely the responsibility of their respective constituencies and is in no way a public obligation. We object strenuously, therefore, to any proposal that the public be taxed to pay for the special sectarian or other purposes for which particular groups establish private schools.

“We call upon our churches, educational agencies, colleges and universities, and parochial schools to study thoroughly their own present involvement in matters relating them to the State and tax funds. We urge disciplined thought, study, and action to maintain clearly the principle of separation of church and state and to withstand the dangers that first tend to blur and then compromise this historic American and Baptist position.

“We object strenuously, therefore, to any proposal that taxes or borrowing power be used to make grants or loans to sectarian or church-related schools. We emphasize that the use of Government finances in support of any sectarian purpose is a violation of basic religious liberties for it coerces citizens to support religious objectives which many of them cannot conscientiously approve."

American Baptist Convention, Rochester, N.Y., June 7, 1960:

"RESOLUTION, -2. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE' “We reaffirm the Baptist stand for religious freedom and separation of church and state, granting unto all people the right to worship God according to the dictates of one's conscience and maintaining separate control of church and state.

“We express our belief in the principles of public school education and commend to our churches a new and continuing inquiry into the preservation and development of a strong system of public school education, and urge the study of, and action in opposition to, forces that may make this preservation difficult."

2. Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) International Convention, General Assembly, Miami, Fla., October 25–31, 1954, Resolution 57:

** * * we affirm our continued adherence to the American principle of separation of church and state, and to the principle that public funds for education should be used for only public education and that we record our unalterable opposition to the use of any public funds for schools conducted under religious or sectarian auspices."

International Convention of the Disciples of Christ, General Assembly, September 28-October 3, 1956, Resolution 65 :

"* * * The place of religion in the public schools also is under constant discussion. Some say the religious heritage of America should be recognized and included in our public school curriculum. Others assert that there should be no teaching of religious education. We support the idea of treating the study of religion from an historical point of view as we do the study of any other phase of our culture. It should be accorded full recognition in the curriculum on the grounds that to omit it is to omit an integral part of our American tradition. * * *"

The trustees of the United Christian Missionary Society (Disciples) June 19–20, 1962, adopted a resolution which will be carried to the next general assembly asking for a “Call to Responsible Study of the Issues of Religion and Public Education." That resolution

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