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Reader's Digest, stated that one of the courses of action to be followed as a consequence of the New York decision, is to accept the fact that the saying of prayers, whether officially composed or not, is going out of the schools and with it, in time, most other religious exercises and activities.

Mr. Brind and Mr. Butler seem to agree that any prayer, voluntary or otherwise, would violate the intent of the Supreme Court's ruling and their interpretation represents the thinking of a great many people.

However, there are other prominent persons in the legal profession who hold a very different opinion as to the intent of the Court's ruling and contend that voluntary prayer is not in violation of the intent of the Court's ruling. This difference of opinion exists in every segment of our society. I feel the air should be cleared by the Congress in the form of an amendment to the Constitution.

I am not competent to evaluate the legal technicalities of these shattering decisions but I am deeply concerned and not altogether without anger, at the constant chipping away at faith in God, which is the foundation of our Nation. I am concerned about the psychological effect of these Court rulings and the confusion on the children of our Nation. They are being subjected to ugly pressures and an atmosphere of agnosticism. We teach them that it is both legally and morally wrong to violate the laws of our land, that we are a nation under God and that all mankind are God's children. Now they are being told by those in authority that it is illegal, therefore wrong, to ask God's blessing and guidance or to give thanks to God in our public schools.

We need a clarifying amendment to the Constitution, to make it clear that voluntary prayer is the "free exercise" of religion, within the scope and meaning of Article I of the ten original amendments to the Constitution.

We have a high and holy tradition in this great Land: we are a Nation founded by men and women of faith in God. But I am convinced this great heritage is in danger and unless we resist, both we and our heritage will be lost. For a part of that heritage is a high regard for moral principles and obligations under God and the attacks against God in our public schools, upheld by the Supreme Court, attacks and corrodes every principle for which we have traditionally stood.

The one means of resisting is to bear witness to our faith, to say with Naboth, "The Lord forbiddeth it me. that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee." We can speak up, stand up and be courageous for our religious heritage, as the sponsors of this proposed amendment are doing.

I think our people, especially those in public office, need to take a closer look at the prophetic warnings in the Bible and resolve that neither in public or private life, will they surrender or abandon our goodly heritage; and praying to God for strength, bear an unflinching witness. God is not dead, nor does He forget His own. He vindicates the faithful and visits His wrath upon His enemies.

I am pleased to know that you joined Senator Dirksen in sponsoring the proposed amendment to the Constitution and, as I submit this statement for the record, I extend to you my best wishes and full support for its approval and adoption.

With kind regards, I am,
Respectfully yours,



DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, Lexington, Ky., August 8, 1966.

Senate Office Building,

Washington, D.C.

DEAR MR. COOPER: Assuming that the committee will be desirous of obtaining statements on both sides of the "prayer-in-public-school" issue, I am taking the liberty to send you the following opinion.

Frankly, I see no reason for the state to encourage persons to participate in religious acts. And, no matter how "voluntary" the prayers may be, I see no excuse for exposing children to the religious prejudices and pressures which would certainly be felt as the result of "being different."

From a completely selfish point of view, I think such religious acts are more harmful than helpful to the church, and thus I oppose them. It is no help to

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church to encourage the kind of superficial religiousness which pervades this nation. President Kennedy was absolutely right when he observed that the elimination of prayers in the schools puts responsibility for religious training where it should be: in homes.

Cordially yours,

STEPHEN CRANFORD, Associate Minister of Membership.

U.S. Senate,

New York, N.Y., July 29, 1966.

Washington, D.C.

DEAR SENATOR BAYH: The Central Conference of American Rabbis, the official organization of Reform Rabbis, with 900 members serving in all parts of the United States (and Canada), at its annual convention, held in June, 1966, adopted the following resolution in urgent opposition to S.J. Res. 148 (the proposed Dirksen amendment):

“Our Conference is on record hailing the Supreme Court resolutions on prayer in the public schools. We have held these decisions to be clear delineations of the separate functions of Church and State, thoroughly in accord with constitutional principles and the ideals of high religion. Religion abdicates its responsibility when it imposes on the institutions of the state the obligation to conduct religious exercises, and in a pluralistic society the state assumes unwarranted religious authority when it conducts such religious exercises. The word "voluntary" in Senator Dirksen's proposal is no answer to the objections, for, as the Supreme Court has pointed out, the very fact of overt and sponsored prayer on school premises endows the practice with state authority and could prove divisive as well as coercive."

Respectfully yours,




Los Angeles, Calif., July 26, 1966.


Chairman, Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

MY DEAR SENATOR BAYH: The Los Angeles Times of July 22nd, 1966 reported that your Sub-Committee on Constitutional Amendments will begin hearings on the Prayer Amendment introduced by Senator Everett Dirksen.

We are writing to you in behalf of the Jewish Federation-Council of Greater Los Angeles representing more than 500 Jewish community organizations whose commitment to justice is based on a religious heritage. We are deeply concerned about Senator Dirksen's proposed constitutional amendment which would permit "voluntary" prayer in the public schools. We are concerned because we believe that this constitutional amendment would be in violation of the First Amendment of our Constitution by infringing on the concept of Church-State separation.

Moreover, we feel this Amendment goes beyond the constitutional issue and we are opposed to the so-called Prayer Amendment because:

(1) We believe, as a religious people, that the responsibility for guiding the child in prayer rests solely with the family, the synagogue, and the church.

(2) We believe that the public school should be a unifying force and not a battle ground between religious groups.

(3) We believe that in order to make such prayers acceptable to the various sectarian groups within our country they would have to be watered down as to be meaningless and harmful to religion.

(4) We believe that it would be most difficult for a child to "voluntarily" abstain from participation in ceremonies conducted by school authorities. For these reasons and because we believe that such a constitutional amend

ment might set a precedent for further tampering with the Bill of Rights, we urge you and the members of your Sub-Committee to vote against this proposed constitutional amendment.

The Los Angeles Times of July 22, 1966 reported "Sen. Dirksen said he may move to substitute his proposed amendment for a resolution on the Senate calendar to proclaim Oct. 31 each year as national UNICEF day." We therefore urge your support in rejecting any amendment that may be brought directly to the Senate Floor as a substitute for this or any other resolution already on the Senate Calendar.

With kindest regards, I am,

Very sincerely yours,

ISAAC PACHT, Chairman.


DIOCESE OF WORCESTER, Worcester, Mass., July 27, 1966.


Chairman, Senate Constitutional Amendment Committee,
U.S. Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

DEAR SENATOR BAYH: The Worcester Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, an affiliate of the National Council of Catholic Women, is comprised of 137 affiliated groups in the Diocese of Worcester, and has approximately 35.000 members.

As president of the Council, I would appreciate having our sentiments placed on record at the hearings before the Senate Constitutional Amendment Subcommittee set for August 1 through 10.

The Worcester Diocesan Council of Catholic Women strongly supports legislation to introduce a Constitutional Prayer amendment, and we are confident that if you can get it out of Committee, and have our Representatives vote on it, it will pass. As long as no action is taken by Congress, the democratic process is mocked, and the will of the great majority of the American people is thwarted. Many thousands of letters have gone out from the New England area in support of Senator Dirksen's legislation, and last April 26, the Board of Directors of the Worcester Diocesan Council of Catholic Women voted to go on record in Washington in favor of a Constitutional Prayer amendment. With best wishes, and thanking you in advance for your cooperation, I remain Respectfully yours,

Mrs. Daniel R. O'Neil,


Washington, D.C., August 10, 1966.

Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments,
Old Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

DEAR LARRY CONRAD: We would appreciate your including the enclosed statement on "Prayer and Bible Reading in the Public Schools" in the printed record of your hearings on S.J. Res. 148 and other bills. This statement was approved by the Executive Council of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, in September 1964.

Thank you very much.



A statement of the Friends Committee on National Legislation
approved by the Executive Council, September 12-13, 1964, after
opportunity for study and comment by the General Committee.

The recent decisions of the Supreme Court on prayer and Bible reading in public schools have evoked widespread discussion and caused many to suggest that the original Bill of Rights be amended.

Friends and others can make a real contribution to public understanding by describing the Supreme Court's decisions accurately, by interpreting the reasons for the Constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state, and by focusing attention on the fundamental question of how moral and religious values are communicated to children and advanced in our society. We urge all concerned Friends to obtain and read the testimony given before the House Judiciary Committee, April 22 to June 3, 1964 on various proposals to amend the Constitution.


The First Amendment to the Constitution says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . ." The Supreme Court in three cases decided in 1962 and 1963 held that, under the First Amendment, state or local governmental units cannot require the reading of a nondenominational prayer, the recitation of the Lord's Prayer or the reading of scripture from the Bible as a part of a devotional exercise in a public school.

Teachers in our public school system, the Supreme Court indicated, cannot be required, as a part of the regular school program, to conduct religious devotions or indoctrinate students in a particular set of religious beliefs. The Court opinion in the Schempp case stated:

"While the free exercise clause clearly prohibits the use of state action to deny the rights of free exercise to anyone, it has never meant that a majority could use the machinery of the state to practice its beliefs."

However, the Supreme Court specifically said that its decisions do permit the study of the Bible and of religion when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education. It is here that a great deal more can be done to interpret the great significance of the Bible and religion in the history of our civilization and their place in art, literature and music. Some states and localities are actively working on programs to infuse moral and spiritual values in their educational systems within the Constitutional framework.

The Court's decisions were confined to prescribed religious exercises in public schools. Nothing was said about the use of mottoes on our coins, chaplains in the military services, opening prayers in Congress, or other similar practices. The fear that these may also be prohibited soon has led to much of the drive for enactment of a Constitutional amendment. But we question the wisdom of attempting to establish the appropriate line between church and state by means of a detailed amendment to the Constitution.


In the early days, Friends suffered much from laws favoring the established church which required compulsory tithes, compulsory church attendance, and compulsory oaths. They felt these laws violated their religious convictions. Friends were among the first to advocate a greater measure of religious toleration and religious liberty for people to worship God according to their own consciences.

The Supreme Court has noted that "The place of religion in our society is an exalted one, achieved through a long tradition of reliance on the home, the church, and the inviolable citadel of the individual heart and mind. We have come to recognize through bitter experience that it is not within the power of government to invade the citadel, whether its purpose or effect be to aid or oppose, to advance or retard."

Political decisions are generally taken by majority rule in this country. But religious observances are not properly determined in this manner. If the school authorities were to be permitted to require certain religious exercises, on this premise the devotions would be Quaker, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, or other depending on the majority religious view in a given school district. Or religious exercises would be so watered down and generalized as to become relatively meaningless in purpose or content. A religious liturgy designed to appeal to all and offend none lacks the note of commitment which is an essential part of religion.

The Court's decisions underscore that religious instruction is the sacred responsibility of the family and the churches. The state and its agencies should not be expected to carry out this task.


Young minds become aware of the glory of God and the needs of their fellow men, not by recitation at routine exercises, but through the example of a committed life, the inspiration of a gathered meeting for worship, the constant nurturing of a tender spirit, and experiences which stimulate growth toward spiritual maturity.

We are gravely concerned about the erosion of the moral base of our national life and the increasing secularization of our country, but we do not believe such trends can be stopped by Constitutional amendments.

We cannot be satisfied with form or symbols in the absence of substance, and no child or parent should be encouraged to believe that perfunctory exercises in the classrom are the substance of religion. Friends have always insisted that religion is a mater not only of belief but of experience.

Nor does the example of European countries with established churches, where only a small percentage of the population participates in church life, give us any encouragement that official sponsorship of religion will stimulate real religious growth. Indeed, this experience seems to confirm the wisdom of the First Amendment's provision that freedom of worship shall be maintained unhampered by state interference or favoritism.


We encourage Friends and others to think deeply about the complexities of the church-state issue. While the state must not establish any religion, it must also refrain from interfering with the free exercise of religion. These two objectives are difficult to attain simultaneously. The majority group, prohibited from holding its religious exercises in the public schools because this is an "establishment of religion," is prevented at that moment from "freely exercising" it religion within the public school system. But free exercise can be expressed by the voluntary acts of the religious groups, without the compulsion or the interference of the state.

In the light of the serious issues raised, we urge that Congress not take action until there has been more time for full public discussion and consideration of this difficult question.

In reconciling differences, both majority and minority groups need to be more sensitive to the faith and cherished beliefs of the other. Only in a spirit of mutual understanding and toleration can we hope to achieve the freedom or religion for all which is the Constitutional ideal.

The Becker Amendment, one of the main suggestions for amending the Constitution, reads as follows:

"Resolved by the Senate and the 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 only if ratified 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:


"Section 1. Nothing in this Constitution shall be deemed to prohibit the offering, reading from, or listening to prayers or biblical scriptures, if participation therein is on a voluntary basis, in any governmental or public school, institution. or place.

"Sec. 2. Nothing in this Constitution shall be deemed to prohibit making reference to belief in, reliance upon, or invoking the aid of God or a Supreme Being in any governmental or public document, proceeding, activity, ceremony, school, institution, or place, or upon any coinage, currency, or obligation of the United States.

"Sec. 3. Nothing in this article shall constitute an establishment of religion. "Sec. 4. 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."

A Constitutional Amendment is adopted when two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-fourths of the state legislatures approve it.

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