Congress Revisits Religion in Schools

Article excerpt

A proposed constitutional amendment that sponsors say would protect religious freedom and allow voluntary school prayer has begun to make its way through Congress.

Supporters, the majority of them Republican, say the measure also would keep government from requiring participation in religious activities or doling out benefits based on religious affiliation.

But Democrats said last week that the measure was unnecessary because voluntary school prayer already is allowed. They also charged that the wording of the proposal would require public funding for religious schools. It was approved by the House Judiciary's Constitution subcommittee with an 8 to 4, vote. Action by the full committee is expected next spring. Republicans say it would solve religious discrimination caused by governments and courts that interpret too strictly the church-state separation provisions of the First Amendment. "We're trying to put in place something that will make it less likely that people's rights will be infringed," said subcommittee chairman Charles Canady (R) of Florida. But Democrats questioned the need, saying the Bill of Rights already guarantees freedom of religion. …

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