The following is the complete text of a letter to the editor of the New York Times from Ma

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The following is the complete text of a letter to the editor of the New York Times from Madalyn O'Hair, founder of American Atheists. November 16, 1994 Letters to the Editor The New York Times 229 W 43rd St New York, NY 10036 GOD IS MAKE BELIEVE Newt Gingrich's cry for the return of prayer to the public schools and Clinton's endorsement of such prayer stress the political expediency for children to be taught reliance on prayer. Prayer instills in youth the "value" of obedience to authority, the cornerstone of a docile electorate. Both are willing to attempt to tamper with the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution to gain their proposed end. Your newspaper, relying on Gingrich and Clinton's media statements, meanwhile misinforms the public as to the history of the removal of prayer. The case of _Engle v. Vitale_, 370 U.S. 421 decided (7-2) by the Supreme Court in 1962 had to do with a prescribed prayer formulated by the Regents of the Board of Education of Union Free School District No. 9, New Hyde Park, New York. This was a twenty-two word prayer to a nebulous god acceptable to all religious faiths in the world. That prayer was: Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country. The Lord's Prayer, given by Jesus Christ, in his Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 6:5-13, King James version of the Bible) was utilized in classrooms elsewhere throughout the nation and particularly in Maryland. The Murray-O'Hair family challenged the oral recitation of this so-called Lord's Prayer in the public schools and subsequently, in June 1963, won an 8-1 decision, _Murray v. Curlett,_ 374 U.S. 203, by the Supreme Court of the United States that the prayer was violative of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Not alone the Atheists involved and the Supreme Court of the United States decried such prayer but the character Jesus Christ, himself, in the Sermon on the Mount denounces persons who engage in public prayer as "hypocrites." The position of that Atheist family was and is, that notwithstanding the First Amendment and the admonitions of the biblical and mythological Jesus Christ, children should not be coerced into prayer recitation because prayer is meaningless. There is no god to hear or to answer the children: god is make- believe. Children must, instead, be taught that knowledgeable self-reliance is the discipline that they must learn. Rather than facing the problems related to adequate schooling, both proponents (Gingrich and Clinton) of prayer seek a magical panacea. Involving only words, they see it as a cheap solution to ills which are rooted in the inadequacies of the educational system which they do not care to address. The nation is poorer for their hypocrisy. AMERICAN ATHEISTS, INC. Madalyn O'Hair Founder MEMO'H:eis *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: http://www.atheists.org * * PO Box 140195 FTP: ftp://ftp.atheists.org * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: avtv@atheists.org * * Info on American Atheists: info@atheists.org, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************

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