A RESOLUTION

 

1Designating the month of June 2013 as "Public School Religious 
2Freedom Month" in Pennsylvania.

3WHEREAS, The founders of the United States of America
4provided for the separation of religion and government through
5the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First
6Amendment of the United States Constitution; and

7WHEREAS, These protections were applied to this Commonwealth
8and other states through the Fourteenth Amendment; and

9WHEREAS, The Commonwealth and other states enacted
10legislation mandating daily school-sponsored Bible reading and
11prayer in public schools, which often conflicted with the
12personal religious perspectives of nonbelievers, agnostics,
13atheists and believers of many different faiths; and

14WHEREAS, Section 3 of Article I of the Constitution of
15Pennsylvania states that "no human authority can, in any case 
16whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience"; 
17and

18WHEREAS, On June 17, 1963, the United States Supreme Court

1handed down its decision in the case of School District of 
2Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp, consolidated with 
3Murray v. Curlett, striking down public school-sponsored Bible
4reading and prayer as unconstitutional; and

5WHEREAS, The decision is recognized by legal scholars as a
6landmark case with significant precedential value, laying the
7groundwork for other cases concerning religion in public schools
8and helping to pave the way for a public school system that does
9not discriminate against other faiths and philosophies; and

10WHEREAS, The decision makes an important distinction between
11legal, truly voluntary prayer and coercive prayer in public
12schools and lays down reasonable guidelines by allowing the
13academic study about religion, while forbidding mandatory forms
14of worship; and

15WHEREAS, In Schempp, Justice Tom C. Clark affirmed the value
16of freedom of conscience in stirring words, writing, "The place
17of religion in our society is an exalted one, achieved through a
18long tradition of reliance on the home, the church and the
19inviolable citadel of the individual heart and mind. We have
20come to recognize through bitter experience that it is not
21within the power of government to invade that citadel, whether
22its purpose or effect be to aid or oppose, to advance or retard.
23In the relationship between man and religion, the State is
24firmly committed to a position of neutrality"; and

25WHEREAS, June 17, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the
26Schempp decision, which protects the right of conscience and
27shields young people from divisive government-sanctioned
28religious activities in public schools, while protecting
29individual, nondisruptive forms of school prayer; therefore be
30it

1RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives designate the
2month of June 2013 as "Public School Religious Freedom Month" in
3Pennsylvania.

 

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