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Senator TYDINGS. All right. When you say, "a voluntary prayer program," you mean a prayer prescribed by a group of parents which should be recited by the children or the teacher or anybody in the presence of the class?
Mr. BAZARIAN. I did not mean that in the original instance that was mentioned by Senator Dirksen this afternoon.
Senator TYDINGS. Would this amendment go that far?
Mr. BAZARIAN. To permit a devotional exercise set up by
Senator TYDINGS. Set up in the class, voluntary; where students would not have to attend unless they wanted; where a prayer would be prescribed by a vote of the PTA or the American Legion or some other group to be said in the class.
Mr. BAZARIAN. Again, you see
Senator TYDINGS. Does it go that far?
Mr. BAZARIAN. I do not accept the premise, again, that, let us say, the American Legion
Senator TYDINGS. I know. But would the amendment go that far? It might not come to that, but would it go that far?
Mr. BAZARIAN. No. I do not think it would go that far; no. I say it goes only so far as the students themselves take it and no further. In other words, a voluntary prayer program involves the students alone.
Senator TYDINGS. First graders are going to take whatever the teacher tells them.
Mr. BAZARIAN. No, sir.
Senator TYDINGS. Basically.
Mr. BAZARIAN. I disagree with that premise. The Court took it up and I disagreed with it.
Senator BAYH. Perhaps the Senator will yield. Could the witness describe for us how a group of 28, 6- or 7-year-olds in a social studies class would get to where they were supposed to be when the time comes for this voluntary prayer period. Where would that be and how would they get started? How would you keep from having bedlam for 15 minutes? Having had a child just going through that age, I am anxious to see how this is going to work. I do not mean to be ludicrous about it.
Mr. BAZARIAN. I think this-no, I said in my statement that it would be the function of the school board to set up a procedural technique whereby the voluntary prayer program could be accomplished procedurally. The substances would be left, it must be left, to the children alone, and no one can constitutionally prescribe to the children that, "You shall say a particular prayer," other than the parents. So the parents have that right as a matter of fact because they have control of the children. They are theirs to govern, and so when the children come into school they recite the beliefs of their parents.
Senator BAYH. Then you would not, as we discussed with Mr. Daiker awhile ago, sav that the teacher could select a child a day to deliver a prayer, and then the next day recite the prayer of another? Rather you would have them all in a group, and would say for 10 or 15 minutes, "Children, we are going to meditate and pray and think about God and things like that, and you may do whatever you want or think whatever you want for 5 minutes."
Mr. BAZARIAN. I say the teacher, starting from the board of education, the principal and the teacher, have the primary duty of setting up a procedural technique where this can be done. We have long years of history as to how prayers were conducted in the past.
They were conducted in the past under compulsory laws and statutes. In other words, they were done each day under law and statute. Now, they would be done on a different basis. Instead of the teacher automatically opening the Bible, let us say, and reading therefrom, which was done when I went to school in New Jersey many years ago, they would be done on a different basis.
Senator TYDINGS. Tell us how they would be done. What concerns many of us about this amendment is how it would work. Would the children be forced to stand up or sit and listen to a class, to prayers that were against their conscience? Would Catholic children have to go in a classroom and sit and listen to Protestant prayers or Buddhist prayers or Black Muslim prayers? How would that work? Mr. BAZARIAN. Let me say this again. issue, Senator.
Senator TYDINGS. I know. But just would work, just how they would work. How will it work.
Mr. BAZARIAN. Yes.
I am not trying to change the
tell us how these techniques That is all we want to know.
As I said, we have had many years of history in the operation of prayer programs.
As I said, when I went to school the teacher would open the Bible, read therefrom, and then he might lead the students in a recitation of the Lord's Prayer, sometimes. Otherwise, he might have assigned a child to read the Bible or to lead in a prayer.
Now, that the courts have said that it is unconstitutional to have statutes which amend these devotional exercises, it can only be initiated through a desire on the part of the students themselves to have such devotional exercises.
Now, if a group of children, whether you take kindergarten children who will recite "milk and cookie" prayers or whether you take senior high school seniors who are 18 years of age and have the wisdom to comprehend each of these devotional exercises, if these children want to come to a school and to express their affection to God each day, they can do so under a program which would be outlined by the board of education as to time and place.
Thus, the school board might well say that the first 10 minutes of each day can be devoted to religious exercises. They need not be 10 minutes. Ten minutes is extraordinarily long. I do not visualize a religious exercise that would take more than 22 minutes at the most. It is so very simple, Senator.
Senator TYDINGS. Do you feel you have answered my question?
Senator TYDINGS. Let me make a statement again, and I would like to make it for the record. I think the people of Maryland, like myself, believe in prayer; they want prayer. But we do not want any group, particularly a contrary religious group to our own religion, taking our small children and making them stand up in class or listen in class to a
prayer which is contrary to our belief, and I don't want my child in a class with a group of Black Muslim prayers or any other type of prayers they have to listen to which are not my particular church's.
Now, what I am asking you is, what techniques are you going to employ under this amendment? Will this amendment permit a group to go in and take my child in a class and make him sit and listen or put moral persuasion on him to listen to prayer being read or given in that class which is not of my child's religion? That is the question. When you say the techniques can be developed that is fine, but I want to know what techniques can be developed within this proposed amendment, because that is the heart of it.
Mr. BAZARIAN. Well, by the same token, Senator, and I am not going to change the issue again, I am just going to go to left field for a moment and say this, that I do not minimize, if my child hears the prayers of any other denomination, now I start with that premise.
Now, you as a parent, have the right to feel as you do, I cannot criticize it. I have absolutely no criticism of it at all.
Now, if you do not want your child to hear the prayers of the child next door who has a different religious faith, then I can say this, that you may tell your child that when that prayer is presented, he may absent himself from
Senator TYDINGS. Do I understand you to say that if I live in a mixed school district in Baltimore City where the majority of the citizens are Negro and the minority are white, and the local PTA. as a group are predominately Black Muslims, and they prescribe a prayer, that I am going to have to embarrass my child and he is going to have to get up and walk out of that classroom, or that they are going to have to sit and listen to that prayer?
Mr. BAZARIAN. I am going to have to answer that question in an unpleasant manner.
Senator TYDINGS. What is the unpleasant, yes or no?
Mr. BAZARIAN. Yes. He is going to have to absent himself.
I think that your
child, being in a mixed neighborhood, he has to learn the facts of life, Senator. He has to learn to get along with everybody.
Senator TYDINGS. But freedom of religion
Mr. BAZARIAN. But this includes religion as well as every other provision.
Senator TYDINGS. I appreciate the candor of your answer.
Senator HRUSKA. Mr. Witness-are you through, Senator Tydings? Senator TYDINGS. Yes.
Senator HRUSKA. Mr. Witness, would this resolution, if it became a part of the Constitution, require that every school board must give the children of its school a chance at a voluntary program of prayer? Mr. BAZARIAN. Yes, sir.
Senator HRUSKA. It requires a school board to do that?
Mr. BAZARIAN. If the child wants it.
Senator HRUSKA. Where do you find that language? Where do you find a school board
Senator TYDINGS. I concur with the witness' answer.
Mr. BAZARIAN. As such, it may not prohibit it.
Senator HRUSKA. [Reads:]
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.
Where do you find anything that would require a school board to have a voluntary program?
Mr. BAZARIAN. It may not prohibit it.
Senator HRUSKA. If they don't want to have any voluntary prayer program, they can say so, can they not?
Mr. BAZARIAN. Yes, sir. But they may not prohibit it.
Mr. BAZARIAN. Nothing contained in this Constitution shall prohibit the authority from providing for or permitting the voluntary participation by students or others in prayer.
Senator HRUSKA. It does not say that nothing in this Constitution shall require.
Mr. BAZARIAN. Prohibit. No, it does not say require.
Senator HRUSKA. Nor does it say this Constitution requires the board to do this.
Mr. BAZARIAN. That is correct. It does not require it.
Mr. BAZARIAN. Right.
Senator HRUSKA. It is only if a school board says, passes a resolution saying, "We will provide for a room where the voluntary participation by students in prayer will occur." Nobody can then say, "This is a part of the Constitution which prohibits you from doing that." Isn't that about it?
Mr. BAZARIAN. That is true, sir; that was my whole answer to Senator Tydings' question, as a matter of fact, or as a matter of procedure. Senator HRUSKA. Suppose they take no action, suppose they take no action, there is no occasion for resorting to this resolution at all, is there?
Mr. BAZARIAN. That is correct, sir.
Senator HRUSKA. There will be no program because they administer the school. They can provide for a program or not, as they choose, isn't that right?
Mr. BAZARIAN. As I see it, Senator, they cannot prohibit it. They may not prohibit it.
Senator HRUSKA. No, nothing in the Constitution shall prohibit it. Mr. BAZARIAN. That is right.
Senator HRUSKA. Nothing in the Constitution shall prohibit the authority from providing or permitting the voluntary participation. in prayer. But there is nothing that requires them to have such a
Mr. BAZARIAN. Oh, no.
Senator HRUSKA. All right. So if they do not, if they do not take any action, there will be no program, and there is no one that would have this resolution in front of them and say that "You must provide a room up here."
Mr. BAZARIAN. That is true.
Senator HRUSKA. The idea of saying an outside group can prescribe a prayer and what do you do, well, that element does not arise here at all.
Mr. BAZARIAN. I said that a few moments ago.
Senator HRUSKA. Yes, except to the extent that it might be embraced in the procedural arrangements which the school board would provide in its resolution.
Mr. BAZARIAN. That is what I said a few moments ago.
Senator HRUSKA. Exactly.
Senator BAYH. If the Senator is through, I hope some day the Court will have the opportunity to go to the point of Stein v. Oshinsky, amended as suggested a moment ago, that the school board presents a voluntary program because, as I read this, and I have read it again, I do not see how one can escape the fact that the great thrust of the Court's decision was that the primary reason the child is in school is to get an education.
Mr. BAZARIAN. There is no question about that.
Senator BAYH. I am going to read to my colleague just one column and a half here in the record because I want my thoughts to be as plain as they can on this. On page 101 (348 F. 2d 999), the case with which you are so familiar-I wish I had seen it argued as you did—the Court
We shall assume in plaintiffs' favor that the establishment clause would not prohibit New York from permitting in its public schools prayers such as those here at issue.
In other words, they are not even arguing that point.
Nevertheless, New York is not bound to allow them unless the present exercise clause or the guarantee of the freedom of speech of the First Amendment compels either provisions, requires to State to permit persons to engage in public prayer. Here again, we are using the same language you were talking about awhile ago, "requires."
Neither provision requires a State to permit persons to engage in public prayer in State-owned facilities wherever and whenever they desire.
The Court goes on to make some comparisons:
It would scarcely be argued that a Court had to suffer a trial or an argum'ent to be interrupted any time that spectators or even witnesses or a juryman desired to indulge in collective oral prayer. The case of the school children differs from that of the spectators, although not from the witnesses or jurymen in this.
So long as they choose to attend a public school, attendance on their part is compulsory. But
The Court continues
the students compelled presence in school for 5 days a week in no way renders the regular religious facilities of the community less accessible to him than they are to others. We are not here required to consider such cases as that of a Moslem obliged to prostrate himself five times daily in the direction of Mecca or of a child whose beliefs forbad his partaking of milk and cookies without saying a blessing to his faith.
And then the Court here says:
So far as appears, school authorities might well permit students to withdraw more materially for such necessary observances or to forego the milk and cookies just as they excuse children on holidays important to their religion.