School Prayer

A substantial majority of Americans believe, as I do, that we are endowed by our creators with inalienable rights, including the right to freely practice our religion. Unfortunately, our courts have been rather intolerant of this constitutional right. Indeed, for more than thirty years the meaning of freedom has been misinterpreted by those wanting to strip all expressions of religious faith from our society. This has been most evident concerning the issue of voluntary school prayer.

In 1962, the Supreme Court banned prayer in public schools in the Angel v. Vitale decision. Subsequent court decisions over the years have further limited various types of prayer. Since these prohibitions come from the Supreme Court itself, based on its interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, a constitutional amendment is the only way to reinstate voluntary prayer in school. Such an amendment, which enjoys overwhelming and consistent support across the nation, is an important means of restoring one of our country's most basic rights.

The House leadership has promised to consider a constitutional amendment being drafted by Rep. Ernest Istook relating to voluntary school prayer. This amendment, if passed in Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the states, would not coerce any student into participating in prayer of any kind. Rather, it states that nothing in the Constitution shall be interpreted to prohibit prayer in public schools or other public institutions. It also states that the government shall not compose such prayers and that no one shall be compelled to participate.

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