WRITTEN STATEMENT BY WILLIAM J. MURRAY
I am pleased to present to each of the committee members a copy of Let Us Pray as a part of my testimony. I prepared and William Morrow published Let Us Pray as a definitive work on the subject of school prayer and religious liberty in America.
In 1962, state-authored, mandatory prayer in public schools in New York state was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1963, voluntary prayer of any kind as well as Bible reading was also ruled unconstitutional by the same court. The 1963 decision applied to every school district in the nation.
In the 30-some years since this landmark case, the nation has lost its moral center. Violent crime has increased from 16.1 to 75.8 incidents per 10,000 population. Juvenile violent crime arrest rates have increased from 13.7 to 40 per 10,000 population. Teen pregnancy has almost tripled from 15.3 per 1,000 to 43.5 per 1,000 teen age women. Almost half of these pregnancies end in abortion. A startling 31% of all live births in America are now to unwed mothers. The teenage suicide rate has increased 400% since 1963.
I could go on, but the questions that beg for an answer are: Will the return of school prayer reverse the trends outlined above? If prayer were to be reinstated in the public school systems of America, would the teen pregnancy rate decline? Would the suicide rate be reversed?
The answer to all of these questions is a categorical no!
The return of prayer alone to America's schools is not the solution to these social problems. The removal of one minute of prayer in the morning did not affect the crime rate, and the return of one minute of prayer will not reverse the tide of illegitimate births. Yet, the problems of our families and the rising tide of violence and indifference for private property do indeed emanate from the 1962 and 1963 Supreme Court decisions on school prayer.
The ACLU and the NEA used these precedent-setting Supreme Court decisions to "greenmail" virtually every school district in America. Threatened with expensive lawsuits, most school boards conformed to the liberal agenda presented to them. No moral code taught in a school is safe from challenge by the ACLU. Even those schools that have an anti-drug message teach what the drugs do to the body and warn of civil punishment but do not teach that the use of the drugs is mor ally wrong. According to the ACLU, monogamy, marriage and heterosexuality are "Judeo-Christian" in nature. Teaching children that theft is "wrong" would be teaching a religious value and thus the NEA and ACLU frowned upon such teachings.
Using the two Supreme Court prayer cases as rationale, the ACLU and other left wing groups have forced their will upon school boards to the point of the ludicrous. In the name of "separation of church and state" students and teachers may not wear "religious" jewelry into many schools. Children wearing a "religious" T-shirt have been forced to wear the shirt inside out for the day. No such rule applies to children wearing satanic or ,gang color T-shirts. The ACLU will not defend the rights of children told not to wear "religious" clothing but indeed does defend those students who wear gang or drug associated clothing.
Freedom of speech is an issue. Students in many schools are prohibited from inviting friends at their schools to their church activities. Even an invitation to a church basketball game is considered an infraction.
Freedom of press is an issue. Distribution of homosexual newspapers in public schools has been deemed a protected freedom of press by Federal courts. Those same Federal courts have ruled that the distribution of "pro-life" literature or a Christian newspaper even by the students themselves violates "separation of church and state." The courts have ruled that if the students are allowed to distribute Christian materials then it is a sanctioned "state" religion.
Many will ask: Surely those who filed these lawsuits against school prayer originally did not intend such intrusion into religious liberty by the state? Were these not merely well- intentioned Americans interested only in the concept of state- church separation?
No, many were collectivists bent on the destruction of America.
My mother, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, filed the lawsuit to remove prayer from our schools on my behalf as a minor in 1960. During the time this case moved toward the Supreme Court of the United States, she was the manager of the Communist Party Bookstore in Baltimore, Maryland. She was also chairman, in Maryland, of the Fair Play For Cuba Committee, a pro-Castro organization. Prior to 1960 she had sought citizenship in the Soviet Union. The lawsuit to remove prayer from our schools was a -result of her rejection by that nation.
I endured perhaps five years of Marxist-Leninist study classes in the basement of my home in Baltimore during my teens. During this indoctrination, much of it led by my mother, I learned that:
1.The United States of America is a fascist slave labor camp operated by Jewish bankers.
2.There is only one political party, the Capitalist Party. The Democrats and the Republicans actually work together behind the scenes to do the bidding of big business.
3.Religion is the opiate of the people. Preachers and rabbis are used by the ruling class to keep the masses in place.
4.To destroy the capitalist system in America the people must be separated from their religious (moral) heritage and traditions.
5.All icons of Western civilization must be removed from the school and children taught that all cultures are equal and that all blessings flow from government.
Since the time of my indoctrination, two significant events have occurred. One of those was in my personal life. The other was of worldwide significance.
First, I learned that if one worked hard one ate well. Thus, I separated myself from the collectivist teachings of my mother. I decided I wanted to keep what I had earned and not throw it all into the giant collectivist pot of government.
Second, communism collapsed in its birthplace. Today the seeds of destruction planted by the Marxists and their sympathizers in America are just now bearing fruit.
Gus Hall is still chairman of the Communist Party of the United States. When I was 15 years old he patted me on the head and congratulated my work to bring about the destruction of the free market place in America. Look at the other voices that even today do not want freedom of speech or of press for Christian students and teachers. Along with the massive labor union, the NEA, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood work toward the same goals as does Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Others such as People For The American Way - which is anything but - plus pornographers such as Larry Flynt and the moral liberals of Hollywood work against returning God to America's schools.
So much damage has been done in the classrooms, and the indoctrination of the teacher cadre has been so complete that the prayer Amendment as presented to the 103rd Congress will not fix most of what is wrong with our schools. Putting one minute of prayer back in public schools will not, by itself, cure the ills of those schools or of our nation.
A Religious Freedoms Amendment is needed. The new, conservative 104th Congress can bring forth this Amendment.
An Amendment is needed that will allow our children to do such simple things as hand out Christmas cards to their fellow students; wear pro-life T-shirts; and invite their friends to their church. An Amendment is needed that will allow local school boards to set the moral agenda, not a Joycelyn Elders or one of her clones. An Amendment is needed that will forever banish the ACLU from forcing their version of politically correct religion on our children.
Without this Amendment, America's school systems will continue to move off moral center. Respect for religion and thus respect for law and government will decrease. Disrespect for clergy is at an all time high. Rabbis, priests and pastors don't receive special federal protection as do abortionists. When mobs ,of homosexuals attacked a California church, the police failed to respond. At the least, clergy and their parishioners should receive equal treatment under law. Freedom of speech, press and assembly must be achieved in all public places. Anything else is unacceptable.
Some churches now have armed guards to deposit the Sunday tithes and offerings in the bank. Our schools have fostered such disrespect for religion and churchmen that the clergy and the church have become targets of crime.
Just prior to Christmas of 1994 I spoke at a Baptist Church on this very subject in a small Texas town. During the presentation of my message six, male, middle class teens were caught breaking into cars in the church parking lot. Some insurance companies refuse to insure church sound systems because new rock and rap bands burglarize churches for speakers, amps and keyboards.
Just about 200 years ago President John Adams wrote, "Our Constitution was written for a religious and moral people and is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." The point made by President Adams is apparent in today's violent statistics on American society. Without this Amendment, without schools that are allowed to teach the difference between right and wrong we are doomed to prison construction programs and social services budgets that will eventually bankrupt us financially and spiritually.
Our Founding Fathers did not want freedom from religion; they promoted freedom of religion. Their idea was to make sure that no one sect would be the "official" church as had been the case in England. The problem in England 300 years ago was not church control of the state as American liberals would have us ,believe. The problem was state control of the church. Yet, in America today, the state is grasping hold of and controlling the church and its functions.
The secular-god government in Washington must be contained. It must be restrained from strangling the church and religious liberty as envisioned by the Founders.
I am quite sure one of the honorable gentlemen will ask, "But, this Amendment would allow a Muslim or even an occult prayer. Are we not better off with no prayers at all in public?
Let me state this:
I believe my God can compete in the free market place of ideas.
My God does not need the protection of the government of the United States. The United States needs the protection of God.
I thank the Honorable Gentlemen for the opportunity to present this testimony before the Committee.