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Comment of the Fortnight
1 March 1998
The So-Called "Religious Freedom" Amendment

The following proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States is coming before the House Judiciary Committe on 3 and 4 March 1998:

Here's the text of the "Religious Freedom Amendment (H.J. Res. 78)":

"To secure the people's right to acknowledge God according to the dictates of conscience, Neither the United States nor any State shall establish any official religion, but the people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, or traditions on public property including schools, shall not be infringed. Neither the United States nor any state shall require person to join in prayer or other religious activity, prescribe school prayers, discriminate against religion, or deny equal access to a benefit on account of religion."
Yes, it's back to the good old days when all the people in class bow their heads and pray in Jesus' name. Oh, of course the one Buddhist student and two Jewish students won't be required to join in, but that doesn't stop the teacher and classmates from asking, "Why aren't you joining us in praise of Jesus? Don't you believe in God? Don't you know that this is a Christian nation? Aren't you a real American?"

I don't see any support for this amendment from any Jewish, Moslem, or Buddhist organizations. I only see it from the Christian Coalition and right-wing political organizations like GOPAC.

All I see is another attempt by christians to have another venue in which they can attempt to impose their religion on others.

You don't think so? If a Buddhist student were to read the daily prayer over the intercom system at a majority evangelical Christian public school, Pat Robertson would be on the air within five milliseconds to denounce the school for attempting to bludgeon good Christians into accepting false beliefs.

It looks as if this amendment is going to pass the Judiciary Committee; House members who vote against it in open session will have that vote used against them in the November elections ["aren't they real Americans?"]. I'm emailing my Congressional representative to tell him to vote against it, and I hope you will do likewise.

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