PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY:
The PFAW Action Fund issued the following press release on 1997-MAY-8. They listed contact
people as: Dave Cour, David Elliot, Christopher Gould, and Delisa Saunders at (202) 467-4999.
'CHRISTIAN NATION' AMENDMENT WOULD TRAMPLE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, SAYS
PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY ACTION FUND PRESIDENT
People For the American Way Action Fund President Carole Shields said
Thursday that a proposed constitutional amendment introduced by Rep.
Ernest Istook (R-OK) would trample Americans' religious liberty by
allowing government officials to advance one religion over another.
"Rep. Istook and his supporters like to call their amendment a
'religious freedom' amendment, but it would be more accurate to call
it the 'Christian Nation' amendment," Shields said. "While Istook and
his allies in the Religious Right say they seek religious freedom, in
reality they want to impose their brand of Christianity on other
Christians and non-Christians alike. Rather than protecting religion,
this amendment would allow whatever the majority religion is at the
time to impose itself on other religions. This would be a fundamental
change in what the First Amendment has always stood for in our country
-- and how, through the years and generations, it has defended
Shields said a recent controversy in Alabama serves as evidence of the
pernicious effect the Istook Amendment would have on religious
equality. In Alabama, a state judge defied a court order requiring
that he alter his display of the Ten Commandments and stop leading
organized prayer in the courtroom. The Istook Amendment -- in
addition to allowing coercive prayer in classrooms and courtrooms --
would allow for the posting of religious symbols in public places.
"The Alabama judge made it clear that the Ten Commandments are there
to promote his religious views," Shields said. "He's also made it
clear that while Christian prayers are allowed in his courtroom, the
prayers of Buddhists, Hindus or Muslims are not."
Shields, an evangelical Christian and the daughter, granddaughter and
niece of Southern Baptist ministers, said it should not be up to a
judge to determine whether her form of prayer is worthy of state
approval or not. "I wonder if he'd approve of my variety of Baptist
prayer?" she asked. "The Constitution exists so I'm not supposed to
worry about that if I need to seek justice in his courtroom."
PFAWAF is a national and developing a culture of opportunity and
tolerance of individual difference. For a more detailed analysis of
the Istook Amendment, please call (202) 467-4999.
On the World Wide Web, please visit the following URLs for more
information regarding the Istook Amendment and PFAWAF's positions on
freedom of religion and expression: