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CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE NEW ORLEANS AREA,
New Orleans, La., October 5, 1962. Hon. JAMES 0. EASTLAND, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: The attached resolution, relative to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the School Prayer case, has received unanimous approval of the board of directors of this organization.
It was only after extensive and increasing interest had been shown in the matter by the more than 800 members of our women's auxiliary and considerable research done by our national legislation committee, comprised mostly of attorneys, that this chamber felt called upon to enter this controversy.
We now believe that this ruling of the Supreme Court has great significance and ask your full support of any effort to reaffirm the original meaning and intent of the “establishment of religion" clause of our Constitution. Sincerely,
Jos. W. SIMON, Jr., President.
RESOLUTION RELATIVE TO THE DECISION OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT IN THE
“SCHOOL PRAYER” CASE
Whereas considerable confusion and apprehension has resulted from the Supreme Court's decision regarding the use of State prayers in public schools; and
Whereas the Court's decision, itself, may have limited scope but the views expressed by various Justices of the Court, in accompanying opinions, raise grave questions concerning many other manifestations in our public life of belief in a Supreme Being; and
Whereas there is confirmed knowledge that our Founding Fathers, in drafting the first amendment to the Constitution, were merely attempting to avoid preferential or discriminatory treatment by the state of any given denomination, or the official recognition of any given denomination as the established church of the country; and
Whereas there is widespread concern that this decision might be expanded by future interpretations or rulings designed to protect the rights of the few but having the practical effect of denying the majority of the American people the opportunity of sharing in the spiritual heritage of our Nation : Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Chamber of Commerce of the New Orleans Area does hereby respectfully urge the Congress to take prompt action, in whatever manner it deems necessary, to reaffirm the original meaning and intent of the “establishment of religion” clause of the first amendment to the Constitution, as proof to the world that ours is a deeply religious nation.
NASSAU COUNTY AMERICAN LEGION RESOLUTION, JULY 27, 1962 The Nassau County Committee of the Nassau County American Legion, Department of New York, hereby approves and adopts the following resolution :
Whereas the American Legion is dedicated to God and country and by its preamble is committed to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States, to maintain law and order, and to promote peace and good will; and
Whereas the American Legion proudly numbers among its members veterans of every religious faith ; and
Whereas Nassau County American Legion believes that the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the so-called Regents' Prayer case has been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted; and
Whereas said decision has created a state of alarm, anxiety, and uncertainty among our citizens which militates against the unity and tranquillity of our Nation at a most perilous time in its history; and
Whereas it is incumbent upon all citizens and upon every branch of government, in a spirit of good will and with all possible speed, to resolve the issues created by said decision : Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the decision of the Supreme Court is the law of the land and must be complied with; that all citizens study not only this decision but the Constitution it interprets; and be it further
Resolved, That it is the position of the Nassau County American Legion that the law of the Regents' Prayer case is merely that a State violates the first amendment when it (1) writes a prayer; (2) sponsors, promulgates, and puts the stamp of authority upon that prayer throughout the public school system ; and (3) authorizes a teacher officially to lead the pupils in the recitation of that prayer; and be it further
Resolved, That it is the position of the Nassau County American Legion that the Supreme Court did no more than to declare that a State may not constitutionally establish the above procedure; and be it further
Resolved, That it is the position of the Nassau County American Legion, therefore, that neither the Constitution of the United States nor the decision of the Supreme Court in the Regents' Prayer case prohibits our public schoolchildren, on their own initiative and voluntarily, praying together a prayer acknowledging our faith in and dependence upon Almighty God of their own or their parent's choosing albeit while in school and under the mere technical control and supervision of a teacher; and be it further
Resolved, That it is the position of the Nassau County American Legion that the foregoing alternative method complies with the first part of the amendment which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion * * *" and, at the same time, gives full effect to and protects the rights of our childr under the second part of the amendment which says “nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof"; and be it further
Resolved, That this resolution be widely promulgated for the information and guidance of all citizens and divisions of our Federal and State Governments concerned herewith to the end that the right of our children freely to exercise religion while in school under the foregoing method might be implemented without delay in the public schools of the State of New York.
STATEMENT OF REV. FERDINAND D. SAUNDERS, THE CHURCH OF THE REDEEMER,
TO SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY It is my conviction that the first amendment clearly forbids the establishment of one organized religion at the expense of all the others, and prohibits governmental interference with free and unrestricted exercise of individual worship. It says nothing else. And yet, through the technique of developing interpretation, this protective amendment is being distorted into an instrument for official denial of God's very existence and for suppression of individual right to publicly express dependence upon God Almighty. Indeed, the Supreme Court's decision goes further : It has the real effect of establishing nonbelief as the religion of the land.
The United States of America is a religious nation. The majority of our citizens claim belief in God and publicly identify themselves with an organized religious body. Only a small percentage of our people deny God's existence and separate themselves from organized religion. The decision of the Supreme Court is a travesty on the plain meaning of the first amendment; and has the practical effect of forcing a minority nonbelief upon the great majority of American citizens holding deep religious conviction. I count it a privilege to urge constitutional amendment to nullify the Supreme Court's decision and halt the attack by militant secularism on the religious traditions and institutions of our country.
STATEMENT FROM COMDR. FRANCIS X. McBARRON, DEPARTMENT OF NEW YORK, CATHOLIC WAR VETERANS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, INC., TO THE SENATE COMMITTE ON THE JUDICIARY
At the outset, I wish to thank the committee for the opportunity to present my views concerning the recent Supreme Court decision on the matter of prayer in public schools.
The majority decision outlawed a prayer originating with the administrative body but did not object to reading of poetry or songs which had not found their origin with that body.
However, the minority opinion of Justice Douglas, if it ever becomes accepted by a majority of the Justices, would drive the very use of the word “God” from all public matters and all prayers utilized at the opening of sessions of courts or legislative bodies.
It is this attitude which poses the greatest threat because we have seen interpretations of law change as the composition of the Supreme Court has changed in the past.
As a former soldier, I recall President Roosevelt calling upon God to protect our servicemen and inspire them to victory on June 6, 1944, when our troops were invading Europe.
Artists have pictured George Washington on his knees at Valley Forge asking God for assistance and strength.
Our Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence acknowledged their belief in the existence of God, their dependence upon Him and the creation of man by God.
Surely the whims of an atheistic minority should not be able to drive God out of our schools and offices of government. Soviet Russia may have succeeded in doing it in the United Nations, but we do not want that here.
To forestall any such action, I hereby state that the Department of New York, Catholic War Veterans, would heartily endorse an amendment of the Constitution of the United States which would clarify a very muddled and dangerous situation concerning prayer in public institutions.
State Historian (For Francis X. McBarron, Commander).
ST. MARY'S CHURCH,
Scarborough, N.Y., July 30, 1962. SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, Washington, D.C.
GENTLEMEN: I am a priest of the Protestant Episcopal Church, the rector of St. Mary's Church, Scarborough, N.Y. I desire to present a statement regarding the recent decision of the Supreme Court outlawing the use of the regents' prayer in the public schools of the State of New York.
1. I believe the decision ignores the clear intent of the framers of the Constitution and of the first amendment. The whole history of the colonial period, the very words of the Declaration of Independence and of the Northwest Ordinance, the appointment of chaplains in the Continental Army, the well-nigh universal use of prayer and Bible reading in the schools prove that the Founding Fathers did not intend to found a secular state. The first amendment was not written to enforce secularism, but to prevent the establishment of a state church.
2. The decision is in conflict with the accepted usage of our country ever since the adoption of the first amendment. Note, for example, the tax exemption of church property, the appointment and maintenance of chaplains in the Armed Forces, Government hospitals and correctional institutions, the use of the Bible and a religious oath or affirmation in courts of justice and in the inauguration or induction of governmental officials, the addition by Congress of the phrase "under God” to the pledge of allegiance and the opening of sessions of the courts and of legislative bodies with prayer.
3. The success of a little handful of atheists, agnostics, and secularists in banning religious observances from the public schools, especially in our great cities, has been followed by an unprecedented rise in juvenile delinquency. May not George Washington have been right when he said :
“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. * * * Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that morality can prevail in absence of religion.”
4. The same group that brought the suit into the courts for the outlawry of prayer now threatens publicly to bring similar suits attacking every aspect of religion in public life. The same logic which led the Supreme Court to its decision on the regents prayer may very well lead the Court to a series of decisions which would have as their result the establishment of a completely secular state. The result could well be as tragic as the result of another decision of the Supreme Court over a hundred years ago—the Dred Scott decision, that was one of the causes of the Civil War.
5. I therefore urge the adoption of a constitutional amendment restoring the interpretation of the first amendment to the intent of its framers.
Such an amendment might read as follows:
"The first amendment to the Constitution shall not be construed as forbidding the granting of tax exemption to religious institutions, the appointment and maintenance of chaplains in the Armed Forces, government hospitals, and correctional institutions, the use of the Bible, and of a religious oath or affirmation in courts of law or in the inauguration or induction of public officials, the opening of sessions of courts and legislative bodies with prayer, or the read. ing of the Bible and the use of nonsectarian prayers in public schools, provided that no child shall be compelled to participate against his own or his parents' will."
I urge you to introduce and to support a constitutional amendment covering these points. Respectfully yours,
LELAND B. HENRY.
CITIZENS' ACTION COMMITTEE, NASSAU-SUFFOLK COUNTIES, N.Y.,
Rockville Centre, V,Y., November 14, 1962. To the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hon. James 0. Eastland, Chairman:
The members of the Citizens' Action Committee of Nassau-Suffolk Counties wish to go on record as being unalterably opposed to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court of June 1962 concerning the recitation of a nondenominational prayer in the public schools. The greatest single threat to our political and religious freedom is posed by nations who deny the existence of God. We, in America, constantly proclaim that we are one nation under God and are desirous of passing on to generations yet unborn our rich heritage. The doctrine of the separation of church and state does not mean that the state should be stripped of religious sentiment. Organized atheism in our society today is striving for supremacy and as a minority are forcing their opinions upon the majority. The Supreme Court, in its ruling, seems to be lending its power rather to the suppression of religion and to be championing the cause of "freedom from religion.” The nondenominational prayer said in the schools of New York did not purport to establish a religion but simply acknowledged the existence of God and dependence upon Him. However, the Court, in effect, by this ruling is prohibiting the free exercise of the right of our children and educators to pray in a public place and the right to pray is an integral part of our American heritage.
We, of the Citizens' Action Committee, Nassau-Suffolk Counties, N.Y., do hereby urge this committee to prepare, submit, and pass the necessary legislation to invalidate this current ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court prohibiting the recitation of a nondenominational prayer in the public schools of the Nation.
Mrs. JOSEPH MOOSBRUGGER, Chairman.
July 27, 1962.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Enclosed is a statement prepared by Dr. O. Walter Wagner, executive director of the Metropolitan Church Federation of Greater St. Louis, concerning the Supreme Court decision in the school prayer case.
Dr. Wagner has requested that this statement be made a part of the record of the hearings now being conducted on various proposals to change the first amendment. This is a personal statement of Dr. Wagner, and he has made it clear that he is not speaking for the Metropolitan Church Federation.
Respectfully request that Dr. Wagner's statement be made a part of the record.
EDWARD V. LONG,
No PRAYERS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, PLEASE! There are three basic reasons why I, as a Christian minister, wholeheartedly support the Supreme Court's decision regarding the regents' prayer and the Court's June 25 decision to make such prayers illegal in public schools.
1. It is not the role of government to foster worship practices. In regard to religion it is the role of our Government to judge, to umpire, in matters of fair or unfair religious practices. The umpire cannot take sides; he cannot be the pitcher; nor must he be the prayer. He has one role and only one role in matters of religion : he renders judgment.
In these United States the role of government as it relates to religion is specifically written into the first amendment. We religious people must come to a realization that our Government is basically secular in its function. People in government may be, and I, personally, hope are, deeply religious. Their witness to their faith can be a testimony of interior integrity and a recognition of the awe and mystery of life. But as public servants their role is to keep the practice of their worship out of their official responsibilities.
This role is incumbent upon all government employes, from the President of the United States to the public school teacher in the primary grades.
Inherent in our democracy is the system of checks and balances. This law works equally well outside government and within. Our religious institutions and our political institutions operate best in a framework of checks and balances.
Protestantism stands in an objective state of healthy tension with the state. It is in our tradition to say to the state, “Attend to your constitutional responsibilities and we will attend to our religious responsibilities.” This healthy division of roles of responsibility tend to keep both religious institutions and government institutions on the alert. Mix these roles and you invite chaos.
2. I am opposed to prayers in public schools because such prayers inevitably violate the essential nature of prayer as Jesus taught it in Matthew 6: 6–8. Prayer is there presented as a private, spiritual experience, and repetitious prayers in public are downgraded. Prayer by rote violates the essential nature of communication between spirit and Spirit. The act of prayer is a private relationship between the prayer and God. In its public or corporate form the art of prayer becomes more complicated and even more subject to laws of magic than an enhancement of the mystery of spiritual communication.
There are wide differences between deeply religious persons regarding prayer. The devout Roman Catholic may say his prayers by rote and believe in their efficacy on the principle of the more frequent, the better. The pious Quaker may find his richest relationship with God in absolute silence, without a spoken word.
To merge these and other forms of prayer into a meaningful relationship with God is not the task of the public school teacher or any other public official. The practice of prayer is the responsibility of home and religious institutions.
The kind of prayer presented in the regents' prayer tends to produce a picture of God totally inconsistent with the concept of God as given by Christ Jesus. It suggests a prayer pattern totally inconsistent with what Jesus taught. Its use would inevitably destroy the spirit of true religion as understood by the Protestant Christian.
3. Prayers in public schools tend to take away from the home, from the family, and from the religious institutions their primary responsibility for the worship practices of their children. The home is the greatest personality and characterforming force in the life of a child. The home will condition its children for good or bad more effectively than any other agency. We do a great disservice to home and church by taking on their most important function. To the services rendered by Government, many of them excellent-public education, public health, public postal services, guardian of law and order—we must never add the responsibility for religious practices. This is the high priority of church and home. Remove religious responsibility from famly and relgious institutions and the cornerstone of a free society has been removed. It is where family and religious institutions are separate from the state that democracy flourishes. A healthy religious homelife is essential to a healthy democracy. I repeat: All devices by the public school to teach religion or practice religion or go through any religious exercises are contrary to the best interests of the religious development of the children.
Besides giving erroneous conceptions of prayer, all actions on the part of public school officials to exercise any religious practices remove that responsibility