September 21, 1966 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE 22611
Mr. MANSFIELD. Mr. President, I
yield mysel! 5 minutes.
Mr. President, since June 1962, when
the Supreme Court prohibited the State
of New York from composing and prescribing
a prayer for recitation in its
public schools, there have been about
200 resolutions introduced In the Congress
In an attempt to remedy this ap-parent
reversal to religious training.
All the sponsors of these various proposals
are genuinely concerned w1th the
growing deemphasis of religion In our
modern society. When the topic of
casual conversation Is whether "God is
dead." the concern Is real-and the
remedy must be appropriate.
As I read the first amendment to the
Constitution, it says in nonlawyer language
that the Government-Federal,
State, or local-shall keep out of the
field of religion. I consider this prohibition
as wise today as it was 180 years
ago. I think the Supreme Court was
merely enforcing this "no trespassing"
sign when It forbade the reading of a
State-composed prayer or a passage from
a Bible in a public school Those of us
who believe strongly in the consolation
of prayer and the wisdom of the teachings
of the Bible cannot understand how
anyone could fall to appreciate the redeeming
value of these practices. But we
must not forget that our beliefs are personal
and free-and this freedom Is also
extended by our Constitution to the nonbeliever.
When President Kennedy was asked to
comment on the Supreme Court's pro·hibition
of the New York regents prayer
We have In this case n very easy remedy,
and that Is to pray ourselves. And I would
think that It would be a welcome reminder
to every American family that we can pray
a good deal more at h ome, we can attend our
churches with a good deal more fidelity. and
we can make the true meaning of prayer
much more Important In the llves or all our
I agree fully with this statement of our
late President. The manner of worship
must be the free choice of the person; it
Is a personal and family x·csponslbility
that should not be swTendered to any
public body. With the daily problems of
society becoming more complex and the
government at vatious levels taking a
more active role in so many facets of our
dally lives, I think it imperative that we
protect fully and without exception the
free and personal choice of religion and
emphasize the responsibility of the pet·son
and the family in these matters of
delicate choice. We must do nothing to
upset the neutrality of government In
religion; and it Is clear to me that with
the authoritative position of government
1n the State public school system, this
neutrality can be maintained only by a
policy of abstention. I think that anything
less would render a body blow to
the proven American doctrine of the
separation of church and 5tate.
One's religious practice Is a response to
the individual conscience: it Is too personal,
too sacred, too private to be influenced
by pressures for change each
time a new school board is elected to
I support the first amendment as it
now exists. I believe that we should continue
to separate all manners of worship
from the public schoolroom; I strongly
believe that we should preserve our public
academic institutions from a function
they cannot justify-a function that
could be destructive of their purpose.
Finally, I agree that a period set aside
for silent meditation In a publ!c school-room
would not abu~e the personal choice
of prayer or the ptivale nature of worship.
I b(>lieve such Is fully consistent
with the first amendment. I urge all
Members to give setious thought to any
proposal that seeks to change any of our
Bill of Rights. I hOPt' that, after serious
consideration, you will agree that the
remedy for irreligion in our society Is In
the home-not In the Congress.
Mr. BAYH. Mr. President, will the
Senator yield me 5 minutes?
Mr. MANSFIELD. I yield 5 minutes.
Mike Mansfield Papers, Series 21, Box 43, Folder 48, Mansfield Library, University of Montana
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