ADL Calls on House of Representatives to Reject Misnamed "Religious Freedom" Amendment
Washington, DC, September 15, 1999…The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today
called on members of the House of Representatives to reject a proposed
"Religious Freedom" Amendment as "destructive, unnecessary and
divisive." The House overwhelmingly rejected an earlier version of this
proposal in June, 1998.
Howard P. Berkowitz, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL
National Director, issued the following statement:
We believe Congress and the American people will not be misled by a
destructive constitutional amendment with an appealing name. This proposed
amendment is nothing more than a clearly-packaged effort to overturn
numerous Supreme Court precedents on prayer in schools and church-state
Religion and religious views have not been banned from public school
classrooms. We understand that many who advocate school prayer see it as a
means of addressing a perceived moral vacuum in our society. We support
teaching American children moral values, but one such value must be respect
for our differences. In a pluralistic, religiously and ethnically diverse
society, a constitutional amendment on school prayer is not the answer.
The First Amendment is our "religious freedom" amendment –
and it has served the nation well for over 200 years. Indeed, this proposed
constitutional amendment, which is unnecessary, confusing, and divisive,
would threaten religious liberty by eroding the essential separation between
church and state.
In 1995, the Anti-Defamation League joined a broad interreligious
coalition of 35 groups in releasing "A Joint Statement of Current
Law" on religion in the public schools. An adaptation of that statement
has been distributed to over 15,000 state and local school boards by
Secretary of Education Richard Riley.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.