ADL CALLS ON CONGRESS TO UPHOLD RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
AND REJECT MISNAMED "RELIGIOUS EQUALITY AMENDMENT"
Washington, D.C., July 23, 1996...In testimony presented to
the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, the Anti-Defamation
League (ADL) today called on Congress to reject a proposed "Religious
Equality Amendment," asserting that the proposed Amendment would permit
state-sponsored school prayer and inevitably result in divisive competition
among religious groups for scarce government resources.
"We believe Congress and the American people will not be misled by
a destructive constitutional amendment with an appealing name," said
David H. Strassler, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National
Director. "This proposed amendment is nothing more than a cleverly-packaged
effort to overturn numerous Supreme Court precedents on prayers in schools
and church-state separation."
"This Amendment would require the government to subsidize religion
-- entangling church and state and raising the specter of government restrictions
on religious activity," said Mr. Strassler and Mr. Foxman. "Those
who support this constitutional amendment are not promoting religious freedom.
Rather, they are seeking government support and funding for their own religious
views. They seek to impose their own religious views in public schools
-- and to do so in a way which would inevitably make children in the religious
minority feel conflicted or outcast."
Last year, the Anti-Defamation League joined a broad religious coalition
of 35 groups in releasing "A Joint Statement of Current Law" on
religion in the public schools.
"Religion and religious views have not been banned from public school
classrooms," said Mr. Strassler and Mr. Foxman. "The document
released last year -- ironically signed by some of these same groups that
are now publicly advocating a new constitutional amendment -- demonstrates
clearly that there is no need for a constitutional amendment on school prayer
or public religious expression.
"Indeed, this proposed constitutional amendment would threaten religious
liberty by eroding the essential separation between church and state."
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.