AMERICAN MINUTE Take the prayer to school and the next thing you know … Bill Federer recounts the impact of the Senate vote in 1984


Praying child

In a Thanksgiving Proclamation on November 12, 1935, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared: "On the appointed day, offer our devotions and humble thanks to Almighty God and pray that the people of America will be guided by Him to help Its pairs."

On March 15, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt warned at the dinner of White House correspondents: "Modern tyrants deem it necessary to eliminate all democracies. … a few weeks ago, I talked about … freedom of speech and expression, freedom of each person to worship God in his own way. … If we fail – if democracy is replaced by slavery – these … liberties, or even their mention, will become forbidden things. Centuries will pass before they can be resurrected. … When dictatorships disintegrate – and pray God will be sooner … then our country must continue to play its big role. … Let it be said of us in the days to come that our children and the children of our children get up and say they are blessed.

The Senate voted against allowing children to voluntarily attend public schools on March 15, 1984. President Reagan said, "I am deeply disappointed that even though the majority of the Senate voted in favor of this amendment, the amendment relating to prayer at the school did not succeed. "

On September 25, 1982, Ronald Reagan said, "Unfortunately, over the last two decades, we have suffered such a twisted logic attack that if Alice visited the United States, she might think that she was naked. never left Wonderland. We are told that this violates in some way the right of others to allow students at the school who wish to pray. Clearly, this violates the freedom of those who choose to pray, freedom that has been taken for granted since the time of our founding fathers. … "

Reagan continued, "Preventing those who believe in God from expressing their faith is a scandal. … We must put an end to the ruthless desire to eliminate God from our schools … "

Reagan said on February 25, 1984: "Sometimes I can not help but think that the First Amendment is overthrown."

On October 13, 1983, President Reagan said at a question-and-answer session: "The first amendment has been so distorted that freedom of religion risks becoming free of religion."

On March 15, 1982, Reagan told the Alabama Legislative Assembly: "For those who cite the First Amendment as the reason for excluding God more and more from our institutions and everyday life, can I just say: First Amendment of the Constitution has written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect the religious values ​​of the tyranny of the government. "

To understand the meaning of the first amendment, it is necessary to read the debates of those who proposed and adopted it.

George Mason, author of the Virginia Bill of Rights and a member of the Constitutional Convention, was largely responsible for insisting that the powers of the federal government be limited by a bill of rights.

"All men have an equal, natural and inalienable right to the free exercise of religion, in accordance with the dictates of conscience," said George Mason. and that no particular sect or society of Christians should be favored or established by law in preference to others. "

On June 8, 1789, James Madison introduced the following wording: "The civil rights of no one shall be shortened by reason of their religious convictions or cults, no national religion shall be established, nor the equal and equal rights of the recognized conscience of in any way. , or under any circumstances, violated. "

On August 15, 1789, the special committee of the House modified it as follows: "No religion shall be established by law, nor will the equality of the rights of conscience be violated."

Peter Sylvester of New York thought of this phrase: "One might think that one tends to completely abolish religion."

Elbridge Gerry, Massachusetts, said he would read better: "No religious doctrine will be established by law."

James Madison: "… understood the meaning of the words, that the Congress should not found a religion and enforce the law by law, nor force men to worship God in a manner contrary to their conscience."

Benjamin Huntington, of Connecticut, protested: "The words could be taken with a latitude that would seriously undermine the cause of religion (suggesting) that the modification be made in such a way as to guarantee the rights of religion, but not to protect those who are. who did not profess any religion at all. "

James Madison agreed with Huntington and Sylvester that he ": … believes that the people fear that a sect will gain prominence, or that two (Anglicans and Congregationalists) will associate and establish a religion. to which they would compel others to comply. "

Roger Sherman did not want the amendment because the federal government should have no say in what was the responsibility of the states.

Madison, wanting to clarify that each state would not be limited by the amendment, proposed to insert the word "national" before religion.

On August 15, 1789, Samuel Livermore, of New Hampshire, proposed: "Congress will not make any laws concerning religion or violating the rights of conscience."

The House has accepted and accepted the first five words of this version.

On August 20, 1789, Fisher Ames of Massachusetts suggested: "Congress will not legislate to institute a religion, to prevent its free exercise, or to violate the rights of conscience."

The House accepted that and sent it to the Senate.

On September 3, 1789, the Senate proposed several successive versions:

  • "Congress will not make any law that violates the rights of conscience, nor establish a religious sect or society."
  • "Congress shall neither legislate nor prefer to impose any other religion, nor forbid its free exercise. The rights of conscience will not be broken. "
  • "Congress will make no law establishing a religious society in
    preference to others, or to infringe the rights of conscience. "
  • At the end of the day, September 3, 1789, the Senate accepted: "The Congress can not pass any law establishing a religion or prohibiting its free exercise."

    On September 9, 1789, the Senate adopted the following version: "The Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, nor prohibiting the free exercise of religion."

    A joint committee of the House and Senate pronounced the final text: "The Congress will not legislate with regard to the establishment of a religion or the prohibition of its free exercise."

    Judge Joseph Story, appointed to the Supreme Court by James Madison, wrote in "A Familiar Exposure to the United States Constitution," 1840: "The real purpose of the First Amendment was to not tolerate, let alone advance, the Mahometanism or Judaism, or infidelity, prostrating Christianity, but excluding any rivalry between Christian sects and preventing any national ecclesiastical establishment that would give a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government. "

    Judge Hugo Black drafted the opinion of Everson v. Board of Education in 1947, which excluded religion from state jurisdiction, which greatly affected initial understanding. Named by Franklin Roosevelt, Black has never been a judge, but a Democratic senator (and former KKK member) of Alabama.

    Professor Daniel L. Dreisbach of the Department of Justice, Law and Society at the American University in Washington DC wrote in "Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State" (NYU Press) , 2002): "Significantly, Hugo Black The biographer reported that the justice did not take cognizance of the debates of the first congress, which had debated the provision now known as the first amendment until the end of the year. to "after the decision of Everson".

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    Ronald Reagan said in a speech on the radio, in 1982: "The Constitution has never been designed to prevent people from praying; his stated purpose was to protect their freedom to pray. "

    Reagan said in a radio address on February 25, 1984: "The former Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, pointed out that while religious exercises were considered prohibited activities in schools, religion was placed in an artificial disadvantage and created by the state. Permitting such exercises for those who want it is necessary if the schools really have to be neutral in matters of religion. And refusing to authorize them is not perceived as an achievement of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.

    Ronald Reagan said at the annual convention of national religious broadcasters, on January 30, 1984: "Last year, I had the pleasure of proclaiming 1983 Year of the Bible. But, you know, a group called the ACLU has harshly criticized for this. Well, I wear their indictment as a badge of honor.

    Reagan says it differently on the May 6, 1982 National Day of Prayer: "Well-meaning Americans in the name of freedom have taken away freedom. For reasons of religious tolerance, they banned religious practice. "

    Ronald Reagan said at an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast held August 23, 1984: "What is frustrating is that those who attack religion claim to do so in the name of tolerance, freedom and openness. Question: Is not it the real truth that they are intolerant to religion? "

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