« EdellinenJatka »
I believe Senator Dirksen's proposed amendment would lend itself to clear the atmosphere and give the American public a healthier interpretation of Article I of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.
More than one reference is made of God in the Declaration of Independence. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written by men who knew only the God of the Bible. The freedom they sought to establish is based on the teachings of the Bible and the Person and Words of Jesus Christ. To remove the reading of the Bible and the use of prayers from the public schools is to remove them from a large segment of American life. The very strength of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will be weakened. It is the Bible which gives these essential instruments to our freedom, their strength and power.
My travels have enabled me to observe and my observations have made me form the conviction that the freedom of this nation is founded on the Bible not the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, but the Bible. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are a result of man's search for the political freedom aired in the Scripture. Remove the Bible and you remove the foundation on which these two documents were founded.
The Bible contains universal moral truths in its many words of ancient wisdom and the Words of Jesus Christ. These words are necessary and helpful in the hands of our teachers in forming and developing the high moral and spiritual values. These are holy and faithful words, recognized by good men everywhere as words of encouragement, of love, and of life. They are quiet, gentle words that speak of faith and hope, of light and peace and joy. They are words on which our freedom is built. Deprive our schools of these words and they shall be the poorer, and a great disservice would be rendered the children of our nation.
As for prayer, both the Senate and House have long felt its necessity in opening their sessions with prayer. I have observed it to be a mighty power to bring order out of chaos. I have seen it transform the entire atmosphere in a school from one of indifference, suspicion, distrust to that of friendliness, concern, and interest. Prayer is a valuable method, or tool for bringing good results. I know this to be true. This is not theory. This is fact. I have seen time and time again what difference a short, non-sectarian program presented once a week in a public school utilizing the reading of the Bible and prayers can do. The results are good and to be desired.
Approval of the Dirksen Amendment would give our principals and teachers the encouragement they need at this time to continue the use of those things that develop within their students desirable moral and spiritual values. I know you will agree that such qualities as friendliness, contentment, confidence, and fortitude are to be encouraged. That such spiritual qualities as charity, faith, hope, gentleness, humility, love, kindness, gratitude, and mercy are necessary to any healthy personality or culture.
I am grateful for the privilege of sharing with you my convictions of this issue. They are the result of years of service among the schools, and of extensive travels at home and abroad. Attached to this letter is a plan which I have developed for the "Development of Moral and Spiritual Values in Public Schools" through the use of interesting non-sectarian programs. Please take time to read it through.
DEVELOPING MORAL AND SPIRITUAL VALUES IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
TYPES OF NONSECTARIAN PROGRAMS USED SUCCESSFULLY IN PUBLIC SCHOOL ASSEMBLIES
Each program included remarks (introductory and explanatory), and an impressive and practical message, or dramatized story on film or transcription. Two types were used: The Total Live Program and The Partial Live Program. In the Total Live Program no audio-visual aids are used. Local ministers and laymen, and available missionaries and leading authorities were invited to take part. Panel and forum type programs are possible. Soloists, quartets choirs, the Hi Y and Y Teens may be incorporated. The time needed for each program may range from 20 to 30 minutes.
In the Partial Live Program audio-visual aids were used. Sound motion picture films, film-strips, and 15 or 30 minute transcribed programs were presented with effective and lasting results. These programs are available at small cost. School talent was used. Depending on the length of the featured program selected, the total time required varies from 20 to 40 minutes. Each program presented met the following conditions:
1. It offered the students the best possible instruction in moral and spiritual thought and was charged with the highest moral and spiritual teachings.
2. It met the standards of objectivity and scholarly competence expected in every non-sectarian program of Worship or discipline.
3. No program when presented in public education had as its aim aid to any particular religion and was not employed as an instrument of sectarian propaganda.
4. The major religious traditions of Moral and Spiritual teachings were appropriately and interestingly presented.
5. No student was required to attend the assembly programs contrary to parent's objections.
Moral and Spiritual values are developed (1) in the home through prayer, Bible study of hymns, and other worship-at-home activities, together as a family unit or in private; and (2) in the Church and Church School through a planned program of Worship, Bible Study, Christian Service, and Fellowship. However, Moral and Spiritual values may also be developed in the public schools through accredited Bible courses offering its students the best possible instruction in the history, Scriptures and beliefs of the Judeo-Christian heritage by qualified teachers and through planned Assembly Periods. As to Planned Assemblies, a school's first need is an auditorium. One itinerant "Teacher of Moral and Spiritual Values" responsible to the Secondary and/or Elementary Supervisors can serve as many as 20 schools. His duties would be to work in conjunction with the principal of each school; to plan, present, or be responsible for the presentation of at least three Moral and Spiritual programs a month or twenty-seven each term. To accomplish this would cost approximately: Annual teacher's Salary-$5,000.00, a Travel Allowance of $50.00 a month or $540.00 a year, $100.00 rental fee for audio-visual aids (films, film-strips, and transcriptions) for each school or $2,000.00 for 20 schools. The total cost to serve 20 schools would be about $7,450.00. There are approximately 25,000 Secondary Schools in the Continental United States. This number includes every regular 4 year high school, Jr. Hi., Sr. Hi., and Jr.-Sr. Hi and individual High School in the nation. Assuming each school has an auditorium, and using the above estimated cost of one teacher to serve 20 schools, it would take about 1,250 teachers and cost about $9,312,500.00 to serve them each one. A Maximum and efficient coverage at a minimum cost.
TESTIMONY OF JOHN QUINCY ADAMS RE DIRKSEN PRAYER AMENDMENT
Mr. Chairman; Senator Bayh, Gentlemen and Members of the Sub-Committee on Constitutional Amendments:
My name is John Quincy Adams and I reside at 128 Highland Ave., Montclair, New Jersey.
I am president of The Manhattan Refrigerating Company in New York, N.Y. and the Union Terminal Cold Storage Co., Inc., in Jersey City, New Jersey. As a Catholic layman, I am deeply devoted to the Religion of my Faith. I have founded, or am an active member of a number of organizations, including the Catholic Institute of the Food Industry; the National Catholic Employers and Managers Study Group; the National Catholic Social Action Conference; the National Council of Catholic Men; the Catholic Commission on Intellectual and Cultural Affairs; the Montclair Intercredal Committee for Religious Education; the Holy Name Society; the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and the Montclair Conveners-(which was formed for the purpose of meeting the situation after the Supreme Court decision three years ago). I also am a member of Cardinal Spellman's Co-Ordinating Committee of Catholic Lay Organizations of the Archdiocese of New York.
As a dedicated Catholic, who is active in fostering Religion and Religious education among young people, I deplore the Dirksen Prayer Amendment, or any other Amendment that would legalize expressions of religious observance through prayer in the public schools.
I agree with the position of Dr. Robert Drinan, S.J., Dean of Boston College Law School, and David R. Hunter of the National Council of Churches, that the Supreme Court decision, with recommendations about how Religion should be handled in the Public School System, is sound and realistic, and any attempt like the Dirksen Amendment, to tamper with the First Amendment, would be dangerous and might lead to many unfortunate practices which would hurt Religion rather than enhance it.
It is pure fallacy to think that a diluted prayer in the Public School classroom is going to make any deep impression on the child's mind. I firmly believe that Religion should play an important role in the lives of our young people. However, this must be approached in a constructive and intelligent manner in keeping with the rich religious traditions of each Faith. To achieve this there
must be greater concentration on Religion and Religious education in the home, in the Churches and in the Synagogues.
In the best interests of Religion, therefore, I strongly oppose the Dirksen Prayer amendment as an invalid approach to help youngsters in the Public Schools appreciate the important part that Religious education should play in their lives.
STATEMENT OF EDWARD L. ERICSON, AMERICAN ETHICAL UNION
Mr. ERICSON. Mr. Chairman, my name is Edward L. Ericson. I serve as leader-religious leader-of the Washington Ethical Society, 1822 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, D.C. My testimony is on behalf of the American Ethical Union, a national federation of Ethical Culture Societies and fellowships, with headquarters at 2 West 64th Street, New York City. Ethical societies and fellowships, located in 11 States and the District of Columbia, are liberal religious bodies which take the ethical factor in religion, rather than theological doctrine, as their common ground. A statement common among us declares "We believe that human relations should encourage and stimulate the distine tive qualities in every human being. We believe that actions which evoke the best in others are the means to one's own ethical growth. We hold that no creed, no philosophy has final answers about God, immortality, and prayer. We assert that men create and share common values regardless of their theological beliefs."
Ethical culture bases its faith upon the integrity and vitality of moral con cern in human life. We strive not to confuse outward show with inner con viction. During four generations our societies and our privately supported ethical culture schools, the latter located in New York City, have sought to build good character on this basis. If the tree is to be judged by its fruit, we have no cause for shame. For us this moral commitment assumes the quality of a spiritual dedication, which we profess as a religious faith without theolog ical restrictions. Therefore, we cannot submit to the judgment of those who equate spiritual health with ceremonial practices such as prayer or theological belief, nor can we condone the intervention of the state in a matter which we believe is only corrupted by conformity and contravened by coercion, however skillfully the elements of preference may be veiled.
Our opposition to the proposals to amend the Constitution to authorize prayer and devotional Bible reading in the public schools is based upon respect for the spiritual integrity and wisdom of the present constitutional structure. We believe in strict church-state separation. We cannot accept the argument that a constitutional amendment permitting religious devotionals in the public schools is needed to restore freedom of "voluntary" religious expression. We believe that this argument misstates the issue, which, correctly stated, is whether prescribed, scheduled, or otherwise established devotional acts are to be instr tuted and maintained in the public school systems in the United States under the aegis of state authority, by or under the guidance and control of state personnel.
We believe that without extended argument it should be obvious to this com mittee and to the Congress that if religious devotionals are instituted under the supreme law of the land, the number of parents who seek to have their children excused will be only a small percentage of those whose religions and conscientious scruples are violated. Every parent who belongs to a minority point of view in religious opinion will be faced with the choice of capitulating
to the system or of exposing vulnerable and immature children to the scorn of equally immature and crowd-conscious peers. School children cannot be expected in these early years to understand or appreciate fundamental differences in religion or the finer points of constructional freedom, with the result that the child who sought to be excused from devotional exercises would be considered outlandish, self-righteous, or even disloyal to his country and morally evil. Such is always the price of seeming to defy instituted authority or public policy. We do not believe that the state is morally justified in thus preferring one form of religious belief over another.
That the desire to exert such pressure is among the purposes of those who advocate an amendment is apparent from their own testimony and public statements. This committee has already heard the argument that public school religious ceremonies are necessary because millions of Americans are said to be without religious training. This should spotlight the self-contradiction in the claim that the proposed devotionals are intended to be only voluntary.
It is this coercive and manipulative feature which attacks the integrity of personal belief. We consider it incompatible with the interests of voluntary religion and personal faith to impose upon the population generally state-ordained, statestructured, or state-regulated religious devotionals. A prayer cannot be written which does not do violence to the spirit or practice of some considerable segment of our organized American faiths, to say nothing of the consciences of those without formal religion. These practices would necessarily correspond at the local level to what prevailing political groups in control of public education might consider our collective religious interests to be. Religious indoctrination would be among the political spoils. The predictable outcome of such a compromised and demeaned religion would be the growth of the virulent, antireligious secularism which is rare in America but common in those nations where religious observances are prescribed by law. Religion by coercion produces its inevitable reaction. While we have mentioned the distress of the children of dissenters, it is the moral effect upon the children of those who would conform which concerns us most of all. The effect would be to encourage the already too prevalent disposition to equate good citizenship and patriotism with adherence to the prevailing creed or practice of the community. Religion would cease to be a matter of conscientious personal choice and would tend to become a badge of social acceptability, of social conformity. This is the curse of true spirituality everywhere. Whatever may be the good intentions behind these proposals to amend the Constitution, we are convinced that the inevitable result would be the encouragement of spiritual regimentation while penalizing prophetic faith and principled conviction. Voluntary religion, not "unbelief," would be the chief victim.
Mr. Chairman, that is my prepared statement to which there is attached a resolution adopted by the delegates of the American Ethical Union in its national assembly here in Washington, May 2, 1964.
(The resolution referred to follows:)
APPENDIX TO THE STATEMENT BY EDWARD L. ERICSON ON BEHALF OF THE AMERIICAN ETHICAL UNION'S RESOLUTION REGARDING PROPOSALS TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION WITH REFERENCE TO PRAYERS AND BIBLE READING IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND RELATED MATTERS
(Adopted by the delegates of the American Ethical Union in Assembly in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 1964)
The American Ethical Union is deeply concerned with efforts now being made in the Congress to diminish the guarantees of religious freedom and separation of church and state contained in the Constitution, and as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the specific area of government-sanctioned religious observances for public schools, we believe that no child should be placed in a position which, on the one hand may mean hypocrisy and on the other, ostracism. Neither do we believe that teachers and other staff should be placed in a similar position.
Whether such religious observances are supposedly voluntary or prescribed, they constitute State sanction for sectarian groups and legalize government involvement in matters of conscience and thought, and represent a dangerous departure from our traditional policy of freedom of belief for believers and nonbelievers alike.
We call upon all Members of Congress to resist efforts to amend the Constitution to thwart decisions of the Supreme Court which uphold the principles of separation of church and state, and of religious freedom that we so wholeheartedly cherish.
We further urge every member of the American Ethical Union and all citizens to take all appropriate steps to oppose the Becker amendment and all similar
Hon. BIRCH BAYH,
AMERICANS FOR DEMOCRATIC ACTION,
Chairman, Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Old Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. DEAR SENATOR BAYH: Americans for Democratic Action flatly opposes S.J. Res. 148, a constitutional amendment permitting voluntary prayers in public schools and other public buildings. We urge the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments to oppose the amendment.
We believe the proposed amendment threatens the right of freedom of religious worship in America. If enacted, S.J. Res. 148 would destroy the integrity of the Bill of Rights, the principle of church-state separation, the principle of religions freedom, and the unity of the public school system.
In proposing a constitutional amendment that reverses American historical tradition, the proponents of such an amendment are acting to involve the government in the religious affairs of the American people. The Constitution requires that the government must neither intrude nor trespass in affairs that encourage the establishment of religion or inhibit the right of freedom to worship. In a compulsory setting, such as exists in the public schools, a publicly supported body would be directly aiding and encouraging religion.
The public schools represent a compulsory setting. They involve a captured audience. Even providing an excuse procedure for the prayer reading coerces students more than when prayers are offered in a non-compulsory setting.
Just imagine for a moment what the result would be if this amendment were adopted. The definition of "voluntary" would immediately create severe prol lems. Would "voluntary" involve an excuse at all times, no matter what prayers were read, or would it involve an excuse only when prayers were being read when a particular religion found such prayers offensive? Would there be provision for prayers that were acceptable to the non-theistic religions?
What prayers would be acceptable to the Quakers and simultaneously acceptable to Catholics or fundamentalist Protestants or Orthodox Jews?
Even "voluntary" participation is a myth in the public school setting. The pressure to participate in the prayer, no matter how offensive, will overwhelm nearly all children. The student's departure will be noticed by all. An onus of decision is placed on children which should not be placed on children.
It is too easy to comprehend the troubles that will result from the contest over what prayers will be offered. Sectarian prayers and similar practices in the public schools will have the damaging effect of dividing children and adults into groups of Protestants against Catholics, Christians against Jews, believers against
As the Constitution now reads, and as the Supreme Court has interpreted it, t allows for the crucial fact that members of different religions pray in different ways. Some pray with their hands clasped, some with their heads covered, some silently. S.J. Res. 148 would result in pressure to pray that not only offends the sensibilities and freedom of those who choose not to pray, but of those who hold deeply religious beliefs which are not satisfied by prayers not of their religion and its sacred beliefs.
The current rulings of the Court provide the law with a firm underpinning of legal certainty. Currently citizens know what the Constitution specifically pro vides as it relates to public school prayers and Bible reading.
The adoption of this amendment would make a political football out of religion In each community, in each state, religions will compete with each other. They will strive to gain acceptance for a particular version of a prayer that meets with their beliefs. The adoption of S.J. Res. 148 will breed only conflict and dissension The choice, then, is a simple one: whether to continue existing religious freedom, which permits religious worship as one sees fit, or whether to limit that