« ÎnapoiContinuă »
from its proper base—the church and the home. We in religious circles owe a great debt of gratitude to the Supreme Court for its objective role as umpire in the case of the regents' prayer—and for calling it “out."
O. WALTER WAGNER.
St. John's EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH,
Hudson, N.Y., November 13, 1962. COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
GENTLEMEN : Thank you for your letter of November 8. While it would have been much better to explain one's thoughts in person, I am nevertheless grateful for this opportunity to render this one small voice on the “prayer issue.”
In order to avoid being redundant and lengthy in my discourse, I shall say at the outset that I believe that there is a new trend in our Nation, not only in religion but in all aspects of thought, that are contrary to the concepts held valid and valuable by the founders of the Republic.
It is absolutely impossible for any government to be objective about religion with which it lives. The Government has the choice of either being favorable or unfavorable to religion. There can be no purely objective middle ground.
In Soviet Russia and in the United States, there is preached the dogma of "separation of church and state.” The actual fact of separation is only true in part. In Soviet Russia, atheism is promoted over religion and in the United States, religion is promoted over atheism. Yet, both nations boldly state that there is freedom of religion and freedom from religion. An excellent example of this half-truth is the refusal of public communications to broadcast atheistic programs in the United States, while religious programs are wanting in Russia.
My contention is not with the Supreme Court's decision. I am merely alarmed with the trend it represents. While this decision may be valid, it opens the door and encourages other steps to literally destroy the religious content in the American fabric of life. I would strongly suggest that the Court or the Congress find new concepts which will both preserve our heritage and also create a new avenue of human expression to meet the need our crisis of today. Sincerely,
THE REVEREND WILLIAM H. RITTBERGER.
ASTORIA, N.Y., November 8, 1962. Senator JAMES 0. EASTLAND, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: Thank you for your letter of October 17 and for your offer to submit a written statement with regards to the Supreme Court's school prayer decision.
I am disappointed that I was not given the opportunity to submit a public hearing in this regard, but appreciate nevertheless, a chance to state my view's in writing.
I have been appointed as representative of a group of mothers and U.S. citizens to protest the Supreme Court's school prayer decision. We believe the ruling interferes with the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by our Constitution's first amendment. We further feel that future interpretations of this ruling might have far-reaching effects in our reference to the Almighty—on our coins, the prayer invocation at the opening of the Senate, any reference whatsoever to God in our public schools, etc. It might be interpreted to the extent of outlawing God (the mentioning of his name) in any public institution or function.
We believe also that the New York State Board of Regents had no intention of establishing a religion in our public schools, but rather an intention to implant in the minds of our children the strength obtained spiritually when invoking help from the Almighty. Our country was born through faith in God and this faith should be passed on to our young . The principles of our forefathers will be lost forever if our faith is abolished in public places.
Some say that faith in God should be taught in the home. This is true. But are we preaching religion by a prayer asking for God's help and blessings not only for us but for all?
We respect the Supreme Court and the vital part it plays in our Government. We firmly believe that its members in reaching their decision might not have realized the consequences involved. In this spirit, we know the Judges will find that an amendment to counteract their decision, is very necessary.
We further trust, in conclusion, that the 88th Congress will proceed in this regard and hope that our statement herein will prove worthwhile in the evaluation of proposals.
If possible, I would appreciate hearing from you further as to the progress in this matter. Respectfully yours,
Miss ALICE OPRYSKO,
Rosary Altar Society.
FLINT JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL,
Flint, Mich., August 16, 1962. Hon. HIRAM L. FONG, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR FONG: We are writing with reference to the hearings now being conducted before the Judiciary Committee, which is considering proposals for amendment to the Constitution in view of the Supreme Court decision on the regent's school prayer in New York.
We are opposed to any amendment which would tamper with the guarantees set forth in the Bill of Rights. Freedom of religion is a keystone of the American way of life. Any change in the Bill of Rights would only weaken this important safeguard. We commend the Supreme Court for their decision which is in the best interests of all Americans.
We respectfully request that this expression of our opposition to a constitu. tional amendment be incorporated in the record of the hearings. Respectfully,
IRVING L. GEISSER,
MARVIN LEVEY, Chairman, Community Relations.
August 22, 1962.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN : Have received the enclosed statement signed by leading clergymen, attorneys, and educators from Greater Kansas City with respect to the Supreme Court decision in the New York School Prayer case.
It has been requested that this statement be made a part of the record of the hearings by our committee on the various proposals to amend the Constitution Would greatly appreciate the committee complying with this request. Kind personal regards. Sincerely,
EDWARD V. LONG, U.S. Senator.
ST. PAUL SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY, METHODIST,
Kansas City, MO., August 12, 1962. Senator EDWARD V. LONG, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR LONG: Enclosed is a statement on prayer in the public schools signed by leading clergymen, attorneys, and educators from Greater Kansas City.
May I urge you to call this to the attention of your colleagues by inserting it in the Congressional Record and including it in hearings of the Judiciary Committee. Sincerely yours,
Joux M. SWOMLEY, JR.
STATEMENT ON PUBLIC PRAYER IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS The Supreme Court on June 25, 1962, handed down an important decision forbidding the use in the public schools of a prayer written by the New York State Board of Regents. The majority opinion written by Justice Hugo L. Black stated: “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."
We want publicly to endorse and support this decision of the Supreme Court. Although we might not agree precisely at every point in our reasons for op posing the use of public worship as a part of the public school's curriculum or practice, we nevertheless set forth the following 10 reasons for believing the Supreme Court decision is worthy of support by the American people, includ. ing those who hold religious convictions and those who do not:
(1) Prayer used in the public schools is bound to be offensive to some individuals and groups in our pluralistic society. These include not only persons whose approach to prayer is from a unique religious or denominational background, but also atheists, agnostics, and those who for other reasons are of the belief that prayer in the public schools constitute a violation of the separation of church and state.
(2) The responsibility both for religious education and worship rests in the home, the church, and the synagogue. The delegation of this responsibility to the public school, an agency of the State, is but an invitation to promulgate a vague, watered-down, so-called nonsectarian religion, a non-Biblical, artificial faith that must, in the long run, constitute a grave disserve to religion.
(3) If prayer is reduced to a lowest common denominator approach in order to be inoffensive to different religious groups, by the same token it becomes theologically inadequate. Prayer thus is secularized through public policy so that public schools may have the appearance of being religious.
(4) This lowest common denominator approach to religion not only tends to establish as a new state-sponsored religion the residuum of religious belief acceptable to all faiths, but it relegates the minority of the religiously unaffiliated to a second-class citizenship. The Bill of Rights in the Constitution is intended to preclude such state invasion of the religious sphere as well as to safeguard the rights of minorities.
(5) If the state or public servants can constitutionally compose, require, or permit use of a prayer that is allegedly inoffensive to religious groups, what is to prevent government officials from using prayers that are patently offensive to some part of the population ?
(6) Governments are by nature instruments of restrains and coercion to enforce justice and to promote the general welfare. The worship of God is by nature a voluntary expression and ought not to be associated with the coercive functions of the State Governments should guarantee freedom of private and public exercise of religious conviction as well as freedom for the expression of objection to any or all religious doctrines. But governments must not be permitted to determine what is orthodox or heretical and hence must leave to the home and the church the ritualistic or doctrinal expressions of religious faith.
(7) When persons in a captive audience who do not approve of prayer or a particular prayer or the context in which the prayer is said, are involved in religious worship as a part of government policy, some are alienated from genuine religious expression and commitment. Others may become antagonistic to institutional religion and even intolerant because of its readiness to rely on government coercion of children for external religious expression. In such cases a program designed to foster religious commitment may be responsible for retarding it and may even injure the religious freedom which we in this country so highly prize.
(8) It is important to have religious communities that are distinguishable from the political community. Too often the actions of Spain, Israel, or England have been identified with a dominant religious group in those countries. The danger is not only that religious groups will be identified with the mistakes and injustices of political units, but that prayer to a God of all nations may be used to hallow narrow nationalism. This merging of the religious expression with cultural and even governmental activity may mute the prophetic religious criticism that so genuinely serves the best interests of the state.
(9) Schoolchildren who object or whose parents object to their participation in religious practices in the public schools may hesitate to declare themselves as nonreligious or as members of a minority religious group. Pressure upon children in such circumstances is an invasion of the privacy of belief that so many consider essential to genuine liberty.
(10) Teachers ought not to be expected to perform public religious functions in public schools even if they should be qualified to do so. There is danger of overzealous religious activity as well as of prayer so perfunctory as to be a mockery of religion. Under some circumstances teachers who are identified with a particular religious expression may even become for their students objects of ridicule or hostility.
SIGNERS James E. Amick, CLU. Carl Bangs, associate professor of historical theology, St. Paul School of The
ology, Methodist, Kansas City, Mo. Ernest E. Bayles, professor of education, Lawrence, Kans. Eleanore C. Blue, professor, University of Kansas City Law School. Stanley Bohn, pastor, Kansas City Mennonite Church. Arthur Brand, Brand & Puritz Co. Girard T. Bryant, school administrator. Clifford P. Buck, director, Department of Religious Education, Reorganized
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Shrum Burton, pastor, Country Club Methodist Church. Ramon C. Butts, pastor, Methodist Churches in Camden and Orrick, Mo. Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Chick. Carolyn Benton Cockefair. Clayton M. Crosier, professional engineer. Mrs. A. Henry Cuneo, CPA. E. Dale Dunlap, associate professor of theology, St. Paul School of Theology,
Methodist. C. L. Duxbury, pastor, Antioch Community Church. John D. Fischer, pastor, First Congregational Church. William A. Greenbaum II, rabbi, Temple Beth El. Morton Goldman. Ruth Anne Hatcher, teaching dietitian, St. Luke's Hospital. T. Ben Hatcher, physicist, University of Kansas Medical Center. Francis H. Hayward, pastor, Southminster Presbyterian Church, Prairie Village. J.R. Hodges, professor of economics. Harold L. Holliday, attorney. Berndt L. Kolker. Charles A. McRowen, executive secretary, Missouri West Conference, the Meth
odist Church. Morris B. Margolies, rabbi, Beth Shalom Congregation. J. L. Mitchell, pastor, St. Matthew and St. Mark's Methodist Churches, Inde
pendence, Mo. Filbert Munoz, attorney. G. E. Olmsted, pastor, Countryside Christian Church, Mission, Kans. Robert B. Olsen, attorney, Prairie Village. Alvin C. Porteous, professor, Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Mark A. Rouch, pastor, First Methodist Church, Baldwin, Kans. Ben Morris Ridpath, pastor, Trinity Methodist Church, Norman N. Royall, Jr. Mrs. A. Harold Schmidt, past president and member at large, United Church
Women of Greater Kansas City, Mo.
Paul School of Theology, Methodist.
(Organizations are listed for purposes of identification only.)
WASHINGTON, D.C. Senator JAMES 0. EASTLAND, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR EASTLAND: It is my understanding that your Judiciary Committee will shortly give consideration to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Engel v. Vitale, No. 468, decided June 25, 1962, otherwise known as the New York School Prayer case. I would like to point out to your committee exactly how the Supreme Court has again amended the Constitution of the United States by judicial fiat in violation of article V which requires amendments to be proposed by a two-thirds vote of Congress to be followed by ratification by threefourths of the States. The first amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Note that the entire context of the provision is a prohibition on Congress from enacting any law establishing a religion. Anyone who can read that English language can plainly see that this amendment does not purport to vest any rights in anyone-religious, civil, or otherwise.
For a long time following the adoption of the U.S. Constitution there were established religions in some of the States pursuant to State law. A discussion of this situation will be found on pages 242 and 243 of the American history book called “Growth of the American Republic," by Samuel Eliot Morrison, professor of American history, of Harvard University, and Henry Steele Commayer, professor of history, of Columbia University.
I invite your attention to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the January term of 1845 in the case of Permoli v. Alunicipality No. 1 of the City of New Orleans (42 U.S. 589 (3 Howard 589, 11 L. ed. 739)), and, in a unanimous opinion, the Court held that the Constitution and the first amendment made no provision for the protection of the citizens of the respective States of the Union in their religious liberties, and that the Constitution left this to the State constitutions and State laws. In the unanimous opinion, the Court said, “The ordinances complained of must violate the Constitution or laws of the United States, or some authority exercised under them; if they do not, we have no power under the Judiciary Act to interfere. The Constitution makes no provision for protecting the citizens of the respective States in their religious liberties; this is left to the State constitution and laws; nor is there any inhibition imposed by the Constitution of the United States, in this respect, on the States.” In this case it was contended that the religious liberty of the defendant under the Constitution of the United States had been infringed, but the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction as being a matter not covered by the Constitution.
The Supreme Court, in the case of Engel v. Vitale, has in a vague way on several occasions referred to "the establishment clause” which, of course, is found only in the first amendment relating to its prohibition against action by the Congress of the United States. After 100 years in a series of cases, beginning with Cantwell v. Connecticut (310 U.S. 296, 84 L. ed. 1213), and running through Murdock v. Pennsylvania (319 U..S. 105, 87 L. ed. 1292), Douglas v. City of Jeanette (319 U.S. 157), and Zorach v. Clauson (343 U.S. 306, 96 L. ed. 954), the Supreme Court, without referring to Permoli v. Municipality No. 1 of the City of New Orleans, above, announced a new doctrine that the 14th amendment makes the 1st amendment applicable to States to prevent anything being done under the authority of a State relating to the establishment of a religion. But, an examination of the 14th amendment fails to disclose how the first amendment becomes applicable to States other than by the judicial fiat of the Supreme Court.
Section 1 of the 14th amendment provides "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." In these relatively recent cases various things have been held to violate the Federal Constitution because State law deprived a person of his religious liberty withont due process of law, and that this religious liberty was guaranteed by the first amendment. None of these cases explain or point out any language of the first amendment which guarantees to a citizen anything at all much less religious liberty. Bearing in mind that in Permoli v. Municipality No. 1 of the City of