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Brandi Petelle 339-70-2665 92199 Our constitutional rights and civil liberties come into conflict with each other periodically because of certain disagreements and new issues that arise This week a new conflict has come into play between the US Constitution and voluntary school prayer This week the House Speaker-elect Newt Gingrich announced his intention to immediately push for the adoption of his proposal to amend the US Constitution relating to voluntary school prayer His proposal states Nothing in the Constitution shall be directed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or in other public institutions No person shall be required by the United States or by any State to participate in prayer Neither the United States nor any State shall compose the words of any prayer to be said in public schools In spite of the last two sentences if adopted the amendment would allow public officials including teachers to indicate how when and where school children and others should pray This undermines the values of the First Amendment the complete freedom of religious conscience The US Supreme Court has repeatedly said that officially organized prayer forcible in a school environment even when designated as voluntary A constitutional amendment required the approval of two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress and then of the legislatures of three-quarters of the states Gingrich has announced his plans to hold public hearings around the country this winter and spring He hopes to have a vote on the issue by July 1 Should it actually pass a constitutional amendment on school prayer would mark the first time in our nations history that the original Bill of Rights would be amended getting away from traditional American values that would set a dangerous precedent We do not need a school prayer amendment Every child in the United States already has the right to pray in school on a voluntary basis its called the First Amendment It
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