By: sumner, fidonet.org (1:1/31) To: speaker to fundies Re: Religious Bodies on Prayer A M

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By: sumner, fidonet.org (1:1/31) To: speaker to fundies Re: Religious Bodies on Prayer A Matter of Conscience: Why Faith Groups Oppose Government-Sponsored Prayers in Public Schools Compiled by: Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 1816 Jefferson Place, NW Washington, D.C. 20036, (202) 466-3234 FAX (202) 466-2587 or AmerUnited@aol.com Introduction: In 1844, a large scale riot broke out in Philadelphia that lasted three days. During the widespread civil unrest, Catholic churches and the homes of Catholic citizens were burned. By the time it was over thirteen people lay dead. What prompted this terrible violence in the city of brotherly love? Government-sponsored prayer in the public schools. The Philadelphia Board of Education had voted to allow Catholic children to be excused from mandatory religious exercises (prayer) and had voted to allow those Catholic students to use their own version of the Bible. The Board of Education was not eliminating Protestant prayers or Bible reading, it was just allowing the minority religious group of the time (the Catholics) to do what is commonly referred to today as "opting-out." Unfortunately, that wasn't a religious accommodation the majority of the community accepted. For the Protestants of Philadelphia it had to be their religious exercises and their version of the Bible or nothing at all. For the over 2000 religions flourishing in the United States today, prayer is a very important matter of individual conscience. Prayer is something to be taught and practiced in the house of worship and in the home, but not to be mandated or prescribed by the statehouse or the Congress. For people of faith, a law (such as a constitutional amendment) that allows government to meddle with religion is a law that violates the very principles of our democracy and mocks our American ideals. Most people of faith understand that the personal issue of prayer when manipulated by government can lead to dangerous consequences, including exclusion, ostracization and even violence. For this reason the faith groups represented in this pamphlet work diligently to make sure that individual conscience is respected by rejecting calls for laws to mandate prayer in the public schools. Read each of these statements carefully, and if you would like more information on the issue of government sponsored prayer or any other church/state separation issue, please do not hesitate to call. Peace, Bunnie Riedel Director of Chapters and Faith Groups Americans United for Separation of Church and State Contents: National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA American Baptist Churches, USA Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) The First Church of Christ, Scientist Church of the Brethren The Episcopal Church Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Friends Committee on National Legislation Mennonite Central Committee U.S.A. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists United Church of Christ United Methodist Church Anti-Defamation League American Jewish Congress B'nai B'rith Central Conference of American Rabbis National Council of Jewish Women National Jewish Community Relations Council Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association Union of American Hebrew Congregations Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Women of Reform Judaism, The Federation of Temple Sisterhoods Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in NorthAmerica North American Council for Muslim Women Soka Gakkai International - USA (Buddhist) To order copies of a brochure containing all statements of faith groups or to become a member of Americans United, please contact: Americans United, 1816 Jefferson Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, (202) 466-3234 or AmerUnited@aol.com. Please consider a donation to cover printing costs. To have all statements transmitted to you, inquire of sumner@rochgte.fidonet.org ... "Government ought to stay out of the prayer business." -PRES. CARTER

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