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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 :
"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 sunis, 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.
“We believe that religion has a rightful place in the public school program, and that it is possible for public school teachers, without violating the traditional American principle of separation of church and state, to teach moral principles and spiritual values. We hold that it is possible, within this same principle of separation of church and state, to integrate religious instruction with the regular curriculum-for example, teaching religious classics in courses in literature, and in social studies showing the influence of religion upon our society. Such teaching would afford a background for further and more specific instruction on the part of home and church. The home and church must carry the chief responsibility for nurturing vital faith which motivates life, but the home and church must have the support of our public schools. Our society must discover the techniques within the principle of separation of church and state by which that support can be achieved.”
6. Presbyterian Church in the United States, General Assembly, 1961 :
"The Presbyterian Church in the United States is completely in accord with the principle of separation of church and state, and urges all members to be alert to legislative bills which violate the above principle and to be zealous in communicating with their legislative representatives to express their feelings."
7. Protestant Episcopal Church, National Council, May 2, 1962:
“BESOLUTION REQUESTING THE APPOINTMENT OF A COMMISSION TO STUDY CHURCH
"Whereas there is widespread and growing inquiry both in the major communions and in public life on several crucial issues of church-state relations, such as Federal aid to church-owned and church-related educational institutions at all levels, acceptance of public funds by church-related agencies, tax exemption for church programs, and religion in the public schools : Therefore, be it
“Resolved, That the national council request the presiding bishop to appoint a commission of churchmen, lay and clerical, to undertake a study of church-state relations, independently and cooperatively, for the Protestant Episcopal Church, with staff services provided by the departments of Christian social relations and Christian education, and with other departments as appropriate; and be it further
"Resolved, That the first phase of such a study be a consideration of the issue of aid to church-owned and church-related educational institutions at all levels. in the light of the resolution of general convention and the current debate on the matter in the churches and the country as a whole; and be it further
"Resolved, That said commission report to the national council not later than December 1963."
That commission has been appointed, and its first meeting is scheduled to be held in October 1962.
8. Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, 1961 :
"Be it resolved, That we commend President John F. Kennedy for his stand in favor of the historic principle of separation of church and state in this country and that we oppose as being a violation of this principle the use of public funds either directly or indirectly in support of private or parochial schools.”
9. United Church of Christ, Council of Christian Social Action, February 5, 1959:
"As Christian citizens we hold that every child has a right to education directed toward the full development of his own capacities, and toward preparation for responsible participation in the life of his home, church, community, and world.
"Recognizing the critical nature of these dangers, we affirm our support of the public school system, democratically controlled by the entire community, financed through general taxation, and open to all children without discrimination as to race, creed, or economic status.
“As Christians we affirm that the responsibility for the religious education of children belongs to the home and to the church-not to the public school.
“The public school should not teach any sectarian religion, permit dissemination of religious propaganda, require attendance at religious observances, or violate the conscience of religious minorities. It does, however, have an important function in recognizing religion as part of our culture and in teaching about religion as an influential force in our society.
“We urge that members of our churches help strengthen public schools by:
"3. Opposing efforts to use the public schools or tax funds to advance sectarian religious aims.
"We pledge our efforts to strengthen the system of public education for the full development of the capacities of our children and for the enrichment of our common life.”
10. United Lutheran Church in America, October 10, 1956 : "The United Lutheran Church in America :
“(a) Affirms its belief that the public school is a basic institution for general education in our society.
*(6) Asserts the responsibility of its constituency to support and improve the public schools of the communities.
"(c) Approves the establishment of Christian day schools by congregations where local conditions make such action advisable * * *.”
SUPPLEMENT: 1. DISCIPLES OF CHRIST
Received too late for inclusion in the preceding classification is an action of the Annual Assembly of the International Convention of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) in the Los Angeles, Calif., September 30-October 4, 1962. A resolution No. 64 as considered was approved, as follows:
“CONCERNING APPROVAL OF THE SUPREME COURT ACTION REGARDING PRAYER IN
"Whereas the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in its June 25, 1962, decision on Engel v. Vitale that 'in this country it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as part of a religious program carried on by the Government' and 'It is neither sacrilegious nor antireligious to say that each separate government in this country should stay out of the business of writing or sanctioning official prayers and leave that purely religious function to the people themselves and to those the people choose to look to for religious guidance'; and
"Whereas this ruling is criticized by people who misunderstood it as an attack on religion, or who rightly understood that this ruling precludes a later favorable ruling breaking down separation of church and state in relation to public support for parochial schools, or who wish to discredit the Court because of its stand on other issues : Therefore, be it
“Resolved, That this convention approve the action of the Supreme Court in Engel v. Vitale, that we commend the Court's defense of the rightful role of the church from encroachment by the state and call upon our people to study this decision prayerfully and to defend it vigorously."
STATEMENT TO THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE STUDYING PROPOSALS TO CHANGE
THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION
My name is C. Stanley Lowell. I am the associate director of Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and editor of its official publication, Church and State Review. This is a legal and educational group with some 175,000 members in all the States, maintains close liaison with major Protestant groups. The legal program of POAU has received the endorse ment of the General Conference of the Methodist Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Convention, and other Protestant groups. The president of POAU is Dr. Louie D. Newton, pastor of the Druid Hills Baptist Church of Atlanta, Ga., and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Its executive director is Glenn L. Archer, former dean of Washburn Law School at Washburn University in Kansas.
We would like to register the entire influence of this organization and its affiliated groups against any proposal to change the first amendment along any of the lines which have been suggested in the hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Our major objection is that such suggestions as we have examined would, in our judgment, open the way for Government assistance to churches in a manner which would be entirely contrary to the American tradition of the past 150 years. The present language of the first amendment is, we believe, proper language which accurately depicts the intention of the Founding Fathers : "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It is true that this language is general and that it leaves to our courts and legislatures a great deal of discrimination in the matter of carrying out its meaning. We believe, nevertheless, that this amendment states exactly what ought to be stated in regard to the rights of a free people to be protected from acts respecting establishment of religion, and to be protected against interference in the free exercise thereof.
The various proposals to amend which are before the committee would, in practically every instance, open the way for various kinds of "cooperation” between the state and the churches. This would be true of financial assistance which, according to all these versions, could be offered by government to churches on a “nonpreferential" basis. This would mean, in effect, that the state could provide financial aid for religion provided only that it extended such aid to all churches on an equal basis. This would be equivalent to saying that while a monagamous union of church and state could not be tolerated, a polygamous union would be proper.
Amity among the creeds in this country, and a church-state situation which has been free of both clericalism and anticlericalism, can be ascribed to our historic financial wall between the state and the churches. To amend our Constitution so as to make financial aid from government to the churches possible would be to disrupt this entire pattern. There would be the vying of the creeds one against another for preferred position and larger emolument. All the abuses which have been historically associated with the granting of financial subsidy to churches would be invited to come upon us through these proposals to change the first amendment.
What did the Founding Fathers intend by the present language of the first amendment? It is clear to us that they meant something far more than the barring of a single church establishment. They meant to postulate the noninvolvement of government with the churches. They meant to keep government out of the realm of religion. It is not just establishment which is barred by the present language, but “acts respecting establishment” ; that is, anything which is about this, anything which pertains to this, anything which relates to this field of religion—all this is shut off from government activity. The first amendment means that religion is not within the purview of human government. It is a matter for the individual conscience and the churches. Its authority rests upon these who have been designated by believers to assume it. It is not within the competence of the civil power.
To change the first amendment in ways which would open the realm of religion to legislation, to officially designated practices of religion, and to the financing of religious programs would be to upset and destroy the delicate balance between state and church on which our felicitous religious situation has depended. To do this would, we believe, inject government into a realm where it has no business to be.
In their proposals to change the first amendment, Bishop James A. Pike, Francis Cardinal Spellman, and others have spoken of the necessity of reasserting the intention of the Founding Fathers. What is this intention? Certainly it was not to provide government aid to religion on a nonpreferential basis. It was the opposite of this. The records of the debates on the Bill of Rights as contained in “The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, I," compiled by Joseph Gales (Washington, Gales and Seaton, 1834), and "Journal of the First Session of the Senate" (Washington, Gales and Seaton, 1820), provide a most interesting commentary on what the intention of the Founding Fathers actually was. A helpful presentation of this material has been offered by Dr. James H. Smylie, professor of church history at Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Va., in the October 31, 1962, issue of the Christian Century. The progress of these debates, the various wordings which were proposed and rejected, and the eventual emergency of our present first amendment, all make it clear that what the Founding Fathers intended was to take the Government out of the business of religion. They wanted to prevent the single establishment, but they wanted no less to prevent a plural establishment. They wanted the churches to be free voluntary societies functionally separated from the civil power. They wanted no Government promotion for religion and no patronage for religion. It is significant, as Dr. Smylie notes, that "Members of the House made no concerted attempt to state the amendment in terms that Bishop Pike says they had in mind' and the Senate refused on at least three occasions to
adopt a wording almost identical with that of Bishop Pike's 1962 recommendation." It is evident that the intention of which Bishop Pike speaks was not that of the Founding Fathers but, rather, his own.
One function of government which we believe should stand entirely clear of church operations is that of the taxing power. One of the distinguishing freedoms of this country has been that which protects a man from taxation for a religion in which he does not believe. If a way should be opened up to breach this freedom, then the proposed tampering with the first amendment shall have done great and irreparable damage. Virtually all the proposals which relax the restrictions of the first amendment or open it up to certain government activity in the field of religion, would compound this damage.
The real intent of the Founding Fathers can be discerned in the constitutions and statutes of 48 of our 50 States which clearly express a prohibition on Government financial aid to churches or their schools. It is inconceivable that those who drafted the basic laws of our States could have utterly missed the intention of the Founding Fathers. On the contrary, they were carrying out their clear intention as they understood it. This meant the separation of state and church; it meant a free church alongside a free state with no exertion of the state's compulsion on behalf of the church. To seek to impose church patronage and sponsorship on the States by the Federal power via the 14th amendment would seem to be an unnecessary and gratuitous enlargement of the Federal power at the expense of the States. It is to be hoped that the Congress will not seek to extend the Federal power against the rights of the States and the rights of the people in any such manner.
Finally, the officers of Protestants and Other Americans United would like respectfully to lodge a solemn protest against a conduct of public hearings on an issue vitally affecting the basic liberties of the entire American people, and permitting only one side to be heard. We can scarcely believe that this has been true, yet the record would seem to bear it out. This nationwide organization whose top officials have served the top elective posts of the major Protestant denominations in the United States has been denied permission to present its views orally and publicly before the Senate committee. We understand that of all the church representatives requesting to be heard only Bishop Pike was permitted to appear because of his known position favoring a change in the first amendment.
We challenge the impartiality and, indeed, the propriety of Senate hearings which have been arranged to give only one side an opportunity to present its views. It is our feeling that on an issue of such gravity a committee of the U.S. Senate is entitled to have full information presented at its hearings. If the Senate Judiciary Committee decides to proceed further with the matter of amending the first amendment, we strongly urge that public hearings should be resumed and that both sides be given an opportunity to appear.
STATEMENT OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
(By Frank E. Karelsen, vice president and chairman of the executive committee)
The Public Education Association believes that the prohibition against establishment of religion in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States is a vital bulwark for the protection of the liberties of all Americans, including the freedom to worship or not, to believe in organized religion or not, according to the dictates of conscience. Because of this philosophy, our Nation has been free of religious strife, although it cannot be doubted for a moment that we are a religious people. Under no other government past or present have the people enjoyed such freedom to worship as they please and to indulge such freedom in more different ways and according to more diverse tenets. The “great object” of the Bill of Rights, Madison said when introducing his draft of the amendments to the House, is to "limit and qualify the powers of Government,” this in order to make certain that none of the powers granted the Government can be exercised in certain forbidden fields. One such forbidden field was religion. Jefferson, too, foresaw the danger of action by Government in the field of religion. Both he and Madison opposed any Government aid whatsoever to religioni. They reasoned that religion should remain a voluntary and private matter in which Government should not interfere in any way. This farsighted action has saved our country from much of the bitter religious conflict and sectarian strife that have plagued other nations.