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Panoch, James V., Religious Instruction Association, Fort Wayne, Ind.-
Simpson, Hon. Milward, U.S. Senator from the State of Wyoming.
Stennis, Hon. John, U.S. Senator from the State of Mississippi.
Tompkins, Clarence H., director of research, Public Education Association_
Disabled American Veterans, Washington, D.C., Charles L. Huber, na-
garner, legislative secretary_
Christian Science Committee on Publication, Washington, D.C., J. Bur-
tion, Haverford College__
Central Conference of American Rabbis, New York, N. Y., Rabbi Jacob J.
Council of Catholic Women, diocese of Worcester, Worcester, Mass., Mrs.
United States Conference of Mayors, Washington, D.C., letter of John J.
MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 1966
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:05 a.m., in room 318, Old Senate Office Building, Senator Birch Bayh presiding. Present: Senators Bayh (presiding), Tydings, Dirksen, and Hruska. Also present: Jay Berman, of Senator Bayh's staff.
[S.J. Res. 148, 89th Cong., 2d sess.]
JOINT RESOLUTION Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to permit voluntary participation in prayer in public schools
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is hereby proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:
"SECTION 1. Nothing contained in this Constitution shall prohibit the authority administering any school, school system, educational institution or other public building supported in whole or in part through the expenditure of public funds from providing for or permitting the voluntary participation by students or others in prayer. Nothing contained in this article shall authorize any such authority to prescribe the form or content of any prayer.
"SEC. 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress."
Senator BAYH. We will ask that the subcommittee be convened.
I have a preliminary statement which I would like to read for the record.
It is my understanding that Senator Dirksen, the leading proponent of Senate Resolution 148, desires to make his statement following the witnesses this morning. He certainly can feel free to make it any time he sees fit.
Senator Hruska, you probably have a statement that you would like to make.
Senator HRUSKA. I have no statement that I want to insert at this time. I reserve the right, however, Mr. Chairman, to do so at a later time.
Senator BAYH. Certainly. You always have the right to make whatever kind of statement you want or any other member of this committee wants.
I thought it might be helpful at the beginning for the chairman of the subcommittee to make a brief statement by saying that we begin these hearings on a proposed constitutional amendment to permit and provide for prayer in our public schools with cognizance both of the sincerity and high motivations of the amendment's sponsors, and the complexity and potentially far-reaching effects of such an amendment. For what we are dealing with here is an effort to change the Bill of Rights, it is obvious. It cannot be escaped. We are here to discuss the wisdom of altering the first amendment to the Constitution-the amendment from which we derive our traditional "four freedoms"freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to peaceably assemble.
Nor must we delude ourselves as to why we are here today. We are here because the Supreme Court of the United States, to all intents and purposes, has ruled that the required recitation of prayers in our public schools during the schoolday is unconstitutional.
It is not my purpose at this time to discuss the merits or pitfalls of Senate Joint Resolution 148. Quite frankly, I have called these hearings so that by obtaining and carefully examining testimony representing all shades of opinion on this proposal, this subcommittee may make a reasoned and unemotional decision on the course it should follow.
What I would like to do in the next few moments is to place these hearings in the perspective of history. With the advent of the recent court decisions, it is easy for us to lose sight of the historic development of the question involved.
I think it is fair to say that this Nation has a firm religious foundation, although the nature of this foundation has been permeated, with the passage of time, by almost as much fancy as fact.
Our forefathers came here not to seek religious freedom for all, as myth would have it, but freedom to propagate their own particular kind of religion.
During the century and a half before the American Revolution, most of our colonies endorsed the concept of an established church supported by public funds and the enforcement of orthodoxy with appropriate laws.
In Virginia, the Gospel of the Church of England was promoted through rigid laws. All newcomers had to report to a minister. If they were not Anglicans, they had to take instruction from the minister or be expelled from the colony. Heretics and blasphemers could have their tongues pierced or even be put to death. Absence from church was a serious crime against the state.
In New England, there was equal rigidity in establishing Calvinism as the law of the land. Those guilty of heresy, blasphemy, idolatry, or even criticizing ministers-I might say that is quite a far piece, criticizing ministers-were subject to trials, fines, banishment, or other punishment.
Gradually, in the 18th century, freedom of religion was accorded to all Christians. Only later did the movement toward full freedom of religion for all-even minority religious groups and nonbelievers— make significant gains.
In 1791 finally the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted. It provided, among other things, that "Congress shall make