Clergy Oppose Government-Sponsored Prayer

Published in the Rochester NY Times-Union December 12, 1994

As clergy of diverse faith, we recognize and cherish the great gift of religious liberty guaranteed to us by the First Amendment of the Constitution. We acknowledge that for over 200 years our nation has served as a shining beacon of religious liberty and has encouraged the struggle for freedom of conscience throughout the world.

As people of faith, we value the importance of prayer in American life but we maintain that individual decisions regarding religious practices are best made in our homes and our houses of worship.

We know that students are currently guaranteed the right to engage in truly voluntary prayer and Bible reading on an individual basis, while students are also protected from being required or coerced into taking part in religious worship against their will. This system safeguards parental rights by ensuring that they - not government officials - can be free to decide what religious beliefs their children are exposed to.

For these reasons and because attempts have been made numerous times to add an amendment to the Constitution regarding so-called "voluntary school prayer," we join together as clergy in a unified voice to object to the altering of our Constitution on the basis of momentary passions or changing political fortunes.

We greet with skepticism any attempt to modify the very Bill of Rights which has afforded us such wonderful freedom. We urge sincere people of faith, both clergy and lay, to join with us in support of true religious liberty and the Constitution.

American Baptist Churches:
Rev. John Y. Elliott
Rev. Jane Esdale
Rev. H. Darrell Lance, Ph.D.
Rev. G. Rheanolte LeBarbour
Rev. Richard Newell Myers
Rev. Dr. W. Kenneth Williams

American Humanist Association
James T. McCollum, H.C.

Episcopal Church:
Rev. Richard W. Comegys, Jr.
Rev. Barbara M. Humphrey
Rev. Peter W. Peters

Rabbi Marc A. Gruber
Rabbi Alan J. Katz

Presbyterian Church (USA):
Rev. John W. Heister
Rev. Paul H. Letiecq
Rev. James A. Rice
Rev. Anthony J. Ricciuti

Seventh-day Adventist Church:
Pastor Robert Cornelisse

Unitarian Universalist Church:
Rev. Elizabeth S. Banks
Rev. Helena P. Chapin
Rev. Richard S. Gilbert
Rev. Betty G. Sintzenich

United Church of Christ:
Rev. Austin B. Cheswell
Rev. Jane Rowe
Rev. Clarence E. Whitwer

Coordinated by
Rochester Chapter Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Charles H. Sumner, President

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