ADL CALLS ON HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO REJECT MISNAMED A RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AMENDMENT
Washington, D.C., June 2, 1998...The Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
today called on members of the House of Representatives to reject a proposed A Religious
Freedom Amendment as "unnecessary, confusing, and divisive."
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 cleverly-packaged effort to overturn numerous Supreme Court precedents
on prayer in schools and church-state separation. 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 AA Joint Statement of Current Law on religion in the
public schools. An adaptation of that statement was circulated last year and reissued this
week 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.