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Senator East. Senator Grassley, we would like to welcome you here.
Senator GRASSLEY. Well, thank you. I made a lengthy statement on this subject at the last hearing, so I have no further oral statement, but I do have a statement I want to put in the record, one page.
Senator East. We would be delighted to do that, and, without any objection, that will certainly be ordered. Also, I want to submit a statement of Senator Robert Č. Byrd.
Senator GRASSLEY. Thank you. [The prepared statement of Senators Grassley and Byrd follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SENATOR CHARLES E. GRASSLEY Mr. Chairman, I offered a rather lengthy statement on the issue of voluntary prayer in the public schools at the previous hearing on July 29, 1982. At this time I have nothing further to add, in the form of a statement.
I would like to welcome all of our distinguished witnesses. It is certainly a pleasure to have the benefit of their views on this critical issue.
As a legislator, and as a citizen I am greatly interested in this subject. I hope that through these hearings we can shed some light on the true significance of the Supreme Court's decisions in Engel and Abington. It appears to me that there remains much confusion as to just what types of activities are outlawed by these decisions. Perhaps the most damaging consequences of these decisions have been their chilling effect on the policies of local school boards.
Before we can responsibly make any significant policy decisions, we must know precisely the status quo of the law. I commend the president for re-opening the forum on this matter. His leadership has prompted Congress, through these hearings, to carry out its proper investigative function.
I look forward to hearing this mornings testimony. I may have some specific questions for our witnesses later in these proceedings.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD I would like to commend the Chairman and my other colleagues on the Judiciary Committee for devoting so much time and effort to the urgent and important subject of prayer in the public schools.
I have long espoused the view that our school children deserve the opportunity to take the time during their school day for spiritual reflection if they so desire. Unfortunately, however, a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, beginning in the early 1960's, have prompted considerable controversy surrounding this issue.
As the result of the confusion with respect to those rulings, I have consistently supported legislation in several sessions of the Congress that would facilitate the permit voluntary school prayer. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, the issue has still not been resolved, and it has now become clear that the people of this Nation are insisting that the Congress assume a responsibility to clear up this problem once and for all.
Article I of the Bill of Rights provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting to establishment of religion. The history of that provision makes clear that its purpose was to enable the unfettered growth of religious faith in this country without allowing one particular religious group to use the power of the state to gain special advantage. Supreme Court decisions, however, have prompted the fear that the clause must be interpreted as prohibiting even voluntary school prayer. As a result, one school principal went so far as to forbid kindergarten children from saying grace before meals on their own initiative.
I do not believe that this was the kind of result which was intended by our Founding Fathers. That type of case suggests to me not that the Constitution assures that one religion will not be favored by Government over another, but that Government must actually take steps to prevent religious freedom. And if that is the case, then there has been a violation of another provision of the Constitution which requires that Government shall “make no law .:. prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
I have concluded that the only responsible solution for this problem would be to include in our Constitution a clear and unequivocal statement which would read as follows:
"Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit voluntary individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions."
It is my judgment that such provision is desired by the people of this country. The hearings which this Committee is conducting are designed to enable us to come up with precise and meaningful language for the Congress to propose as a constitutional amendment for ratification by the states. Toward that end, I urge the Committee to consider the language which I have drafted.
I assure the Committee that in my Leadership capacity I shall make every effort to see that this matter is expeditiously handled by the full Senate.
Senator East. I am finished with any questions that I have of the Attorney General. As I say, the time is pressing upon us. Certainly we would be happy to yield to Senator Specter or Senator Grassley for any final questions you might have of the Attorney General. I am not discouraging it; I am not necessarily encouraging it.
Senator SPECTER. Are you neutral on that?
Senator East. Relatively so, yes. I would be happy to let you two gentlemen ask any additional questions you have, and then we will move on to Reverend Robertson.
Senator SPECTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I have no further questions.
Senator East. Senator Grassley?
Mr. SCHMULTS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Senator Specter, Senator Grassley.
Senator East. Dr. Robertson, if you would like to come forward, please.
Dr. Robertson, we appreciate your patience this morning, and now we shall move promptly into your comments, if you would like to proceed. I would like to encourage you, consistent with, of course, making your remarks, to be as concise and as pointed as you can.
But, I don't wish to cut you short, and whatever you feel would be appropriate for your testimony, we would be delighted to hear. Thank you for coming. STATEMENT OF M. G. “PAT” ROBERTSON, PRESIDENT, CHRISTIAN
BROADCAST NETWORK, INC., VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. Dr. ROBERTSON. Thank you very much, Senator East. I will try to summarize. I have a statement which has been presented to the committee in writing for inclusion in the record, so I will try to summarize.
But in light of what you were just saying, I would like to begin with two quotes from two very distinguished past Presidents, one of them Thomas Jefferson, the other one Abraham Lincoln.
Thomas Jefferson warned us, and I quote: "You seem to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questionsa very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one that would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy."
President Abraham Lincoln said the same thing in these words:
"If the policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.
And I believe that the reason I am here, and others in support of this amendment, is because of the egregious interference of the Supreme Court and the lesser Federal judiciary into the legislative functions of the Federal Government. I believe personally that the first amendment to the Constitution was all the guarantee of religious liberties we needed until the activist Supreme Court of the past two decades has tortured its clear-cut meaning.
And if we might go back again into history to see the clear meaning, as has been brought out already in these hearings, the language of the first amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." When my forebears came to Virginia, they came beginning in 1619 and successive decades, they were Anglicans, members of the established church, but in the 18th century they joined the Baptist Church and were denied certain civil liberties. And these Virginians, and James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and others, determined that there would be no national church of one sect being preferred by the Government to the exclusion of others.
But they would have been appalled at the concept that public officials could not pray, that the Bible could not be read. And when their representatives met in Congress, they wrestled with the language, and one draft of the first amendment used these words: "Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or mode of worship, : . .," and that basically was the thrust when they brought forth that term "establishment of religion." But the same Congress that passed the first amendment had a chaplain, opened its proceedings each day with prayer, authorized the printing of Holy Bibles out of the public treasury, and affirmed a reliance on divine providence.
Now, we often hear the term “the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state," and, as we all know, that phrase does not appear in either the original Constitution or in the Bill of Rights. It was in fact a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 when he wrote a letter, in some pique, because of criticism, to the Danbury Baptist Association, and when he later decided to clarify his position 3 years later in his "Second Inaugural Address,” there was no mention of the phrase "separation of church and state.” Instead, he used these words, and I quote:
In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it (that is, the central government) but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of the church or state authorities.
And that, of course, is precisely what you have said, Senator East, earlier, that until recent decisions no one thought that the 14th amendment made the first amendment apply to State worship. It was a novel doctrine when brought forth in 1962.
There are, however, these words found in the constitution of another nation, and I quote: “The state shall be separate from the church, and the church from the school.” Now, those words are not in the Constitution of the United States, but that of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, an atheistic nation sworn to the destruction of the United States of America.
Instead, the founders of our Nation, to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Douglas, said we “were a religious people whose institutions presupposed the existence of a Supreme Being."
Well, since 1962, a small minority-we have used the term here, "elite"-has forced through the Federal court system a tortured view of the establishment clause of the first amendment which bears no resemblance to the views of the Founding Fathers of this Nation nor to the past 375 years of our history and custom. During the past 20 years, successive court decisions on the establishment clause have so egregiously departed from clearly defined norms of constitutional interpretation that Senator Daniel Moynihan termed these decisions, and I quote, "an intellectual scandal.'
Now, we have only a few examples to understand the enormity of the problem. We are not dealing merely with the Engel v. Vitale case or the Schempp case; we are dealing with the interpretation of lower court cases over the past 20 years and of school officials. Here are just some of the examples that have come to my attention—there are hundreds more like these.
In the so-called Widmar case that was decided in December 1981 by the Supreme Court, the University of Missouri had ruled that they would accommodate all student groups—that would include communist groups and homosexual groups-but that a group of Christian students could not be accommodated because of the first amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court. In the lower court, the district judge ruled that, according to his interpretation of the Supreme Court's interpretation of the first amendment, that the freedom of religion was a restricted right-it no longer was an absolute right, it was a restricted right-and he upheld the University of Missouri. On appeal to the Supreme Court, they granted certiorari, and, fortunately, reversed that order, but within 2 weeks, they upheld the circuit court in the Guilderland, N.Y. case which denied identical rights to students at a high school where student clubs desired to meet after school on school premises to conduct voluntary prayer and discussions about religious matters, and the Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling which said that was clearly unconstitutional.
In my home community of Virginia Beach, I was shocked to find that the State-run community college system had proposed a system of religious guidelines which forbade students to speak of their religion on campus to other students and forced students to submit all religious material for prior restraint and censorship before they would be allowed to distribute such literature voluntarily on their school campus. And, of course, if that was done to the New York Times or the Washington Post, it would be intolerable, the idea of prior restraint before publication, but that it was done to religious students in a State-run community college system, or at least those rules were proposed
In Florida, and in many other States, Federal courts have ruled that observances of Christmas, Hanukkah, or Easter are unconstitutional
But worse than that, a Federal court in a Florida case, Chamber. lin v. Dade County Board of Education (377 U.S. 402) has ruled that the showing of films depicting various religious happenings were unconstitutional. And this was unconstitutional whether
these happenings were in modern contemporary life or in history. And, in short, the students in Florida could not view the landing at Jamestown because a cross was planted there; the first Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims, because they thanked God; George Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge; or the Virginia patriots praying at Bruton Parish Church. Now, an amplification of that ruling is the Florida Commissioner of Education, October 25, 1977.
Last Christmas, in Pawtucket, R.I., the city was forced by Federal court order to remove a Christmas manger scene from the public square; it had been a time-honored holiday observance there. And the American Civil Liberties Union brought in someone from an adjoining jurisdiction, who was not even a citizen of Pawtucket, and forced through the court a deprivation of religious liberty, and then the plaintiff left the jurisdiction.
In Roanoke, Va., the Gideons International, who places free Bibles in the Nation's hotel rooms, were prohibited by court order from giving free Bibles to schoolchildren.
In Tennessee, the attorney general of the State has ruled that high school football teams are forbidden, under the Constitution of the United States, to engage in voluntary prayer before athletic contests.
A recent case in Lubbock, Tex., that was decided by the fifth circuit in March of this year, has ruled that all religious clubs have been denied freedom to meet in high schools. The basic reasoning of the court was because the Texas compulsory education machinery brings people together compulsorily, and once they are together, they no longer have the right to meet for voluntary religious observance.
Of course, the ultimate absurdity took place, Senator, in your State of North Carolina where the Supreme Court prohibited the State from printing on highway maps a simple nonsectarian prayer I guess warning drivers that it was dangerous to drive in the State of North Carolina, but it was a prayer asking for the protection of Almighty God on the highways of that State, and the Supreme Court struck that down as an establishment of religion.
But with these rulings has come confusion. The Supreme Court opens its session with this phrase: “God save this honorable court." Yet that act would be unconstitutional if it were said by a school principal.
The Supreme Court has the 10 Commandments engraved on the walls of its chambers, yet that act, the placement of those same 10 Commandments, is unconstitutional if it takes place in a school in Kentucky.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court holds a Bible for the swearing in of the President of the United States, yet it is unconstitutional for schoolteachers to read from the Bible in their classrooms.
The President of the United States designates a holiday for thanksgiving to God, yet no school child could thank God on that day if the school were in session.
The Congress and the President designate a day of prayer each year, yet the schools cannot give notice of such a joint action of the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government. And now, of course, the courts have begun to reach out and challenge
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