Mischief in Congress, California

By Doerr, Edd | The Humanist, May-June 1998 | Go to article overview

Mischief in Congress, California


Doerr, Edd, The Humanist


Conservatives in Congress sought to open a Pandora's box on March 4, 1998, when the House Judiciary Committee voted sixteen to eleven to approve Representative Ernest Istook's (Republican--Oklahoma) so-called Religious Freedom Amendment. All committee Republicans voted for the measure, while all Democrats voted against it.

The proposed amendment (not to be confused with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the widely supported bipartisan law ruled unconstitutional on technical grounds by the Supreme Court in June 1997) would authorize organized group religious devotions in public school classrooms, at graduation ceremonies, and at other public venues and is intended to authorize tax support for sectarian private schools and other institutions. The proposed amendment's text reads:

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, or deny equal

access to a benefit on account of

religion.

That the proposed amendment is indeed a piece of mischief was made clear when the committee Republicans defeated a Democratic substitute containing the precise language of the First Amendment.

The best that can be said of the proposal is that it is not needed. The amendment would not advance religious freedom but would subject local religious minorities--which vary from community to community and from school to school--to various impositions by aggressive religious majorities or pluralities. Countless communities and classrooms would be disrupted by religious conflicts and resentments. Not only would the amendment impact public schools but it would also allow religious displays and creches on public property.

Perhaps the most insidious feature of the proposed amendment is the clause about not "deny[ing] equal access to a benefit on account of religion," apparently added to secure the support of Judiciary Committee Chair Henry Hyde (Republican--Illinois), a Catholic who is strongly committed to getting tax support for sectarian schools through vouchers but who seems to be indifferent to public school prayer. The First Amendment barrier to vouchers would be weakened or possibly destroyed by the Istook amendment if it were passed.

Of course, the amendment is not likely to be approved. It is not likely to be passed by the necessary two-thirds vote in the House, though it is scheduled for a vote this spring, and there is little sentiment for it in the Senate. Why the strong push, then, for a vote in the House? So that Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition can use the roll call vote to attack opponents of the measure in its planned multimillion-dollar TV, ad, and voter guide political campaign this coming fall. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mischief in Congress, California
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.