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Oppose the So-called "Religious Freedom" Amendment to the US Constitution

1997 Action of Immediate Witness

WHEREAS US Representative Ernest Istook of Oklahoma, along with 116 co-sponsors, introduced the following proposed amendment to the US Constitution in the House of Representatives on May 8, 1997:

To secure the people's right to acknowledge God according to the dictates of conscience: The people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, or traditions on public property, including schools, shall not be infringed. The Government shall not require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity, initiate or designate school prayers, discriminate against religion, or deny equal access to a benefit on account of religion.

WHEREAS this amendment would overturn decades of judicial decisions interpreting the establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment as prohibiting state-sponsored school prayer, religious displays on government property, or other religious activities or expression under government auspices; and

WHEREAS the effect of this amendment would be endorsement of a particular religious perspective in and by schools and other public institutions with resultant disparagement of other religious views and intimidation of school children and others of a differing religious outlook; and

WHEREAS the amendment is intended to authorize large scale diversion of public funds to sectarian schools and other institutions;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 1997 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association encourages its US member societies and individual Unitarian Universalists to work with the Unitarian Universalist Association's Washington Office to oppose this proposed constitutional amendment and urge representatives in the Congress to oppose its approval by the House and Senate and subsequent referral to the States.

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