"RELIGIOUS FREEDOM" AMENDMENT DEFEATEDJune 8, 1998
Sanity clings to life in the U.S. House of Representatives, where on June 4 the so-called "Religious Freedom Amendment" was finally voted down.
The proposed amendment ran as follows:
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 any 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.
As far as its stated purpose (to restore the right of children to pray in school) is concerned, it is completely unnecessary. The only thing that students are not free to do under the current law is to make a public display of their religious beliefs in a controlled classroom setting during any part of the "official" school day. The wording of the amendment appears, on its surface, to uphold the current interpretation. However, its reference to "not denying equal access to a benefit on account of religion" goes much further, opening up the possibility of tax dollars being made available to religious institutions.
It is also interesting to note that, had this amendment passed, it would have introduced the first instance of the word "God" into the U.S. Constitution.Of course, that reference also excludes atheists, Buddhists, and everyone else who lacks a belief in the Judeo-Christian God - making it an amendment geared to protect the rights of only *some* religious views.
Read the full story on the ABC News site (http://www.abcnews.aol.com/sections/us/DailyNews/amendment980603.html).