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the apalachicola <unk> world at the national educational television network it's b national educational television presents regional report a program of facts and come and buy any at reporters throughout the country today subject prayer in school here is the national editor of regional report all know them in june nineteen sixty three the us supreme court ruled that no state or a locality would require daily bible reading lot prayer in its public school has such prescribed activities the court said constituted religious exercises and as such violated the first amendment to the constitution or rather that clause of the first amendment which prohibits the establishment of any religion
but are complicated and pluralistic society has not responded instantly are monolithic we do a ditch its highest court thirty years after the desegregation ruling we still have segregation in many of our public schools and almost four years after the prayer ruling we still have a daily prayers and many of our school to be sure the surviving religious exercises are often described officially as voluntary rather than prescribe some of them hardly appear to be spontaneous report from the state of texas i mean you know
he came into texas this particular isn't used in the largest city in the state that the scene is not respected against them this isn't on schedule but not part of the opening exercises and most texas i'm karla so when the supreme court state of its historic their opinion in nineteen sixty three texas school board lawyers apparently wasted little time explaining the decision the board members rightfully concerned now they could satisfy the expectations of their communities and stay within the law since the supreme court in fact outlawed prescribed very public school ceremonies it's rather difficult to find that described a rare in texas approved today is not
difficult to find where they are which at least on the surface can be described as a voluntary request remains unanswered meantime there continues in schools across texas a survey on the subject was conducted recently by the texas council of churches we discuss the findings of the study with the conference director of religion and public education doctor ct gifford the caregiver of a recent survey by the texas council of churches shows or rather large percentage of texas schools still allowing classrooms with the disclosures of those surveyed were in one particular show then the iron lady and which covered two hundred to them about larger public schools in texas showed that over seventy percent of these jewelers you conducting religious devotion part of the program
and we found that only twenty nine percent of these things did not conduct religious devotion now in taxes of course we might expect that religious devotion would continue in the spring called get back where we are part of the bible belt in report itself and where devotions prayer and bible reading became very much of a tradition and a way is to separate edition from religion dr different strikes a vital point when he notes the difficulty in separating religion from tradition texas is a state steeped in tradition and in many situations only token effort is made to adjust to a new way
which might help her a traditional course not texas school boards of family feel that and devotional there is an integral part of their obligations and they have no intentions of changing why mr eckel well as the position of the houston school board on the nineteen sixty three supreme court decision on prayer in the public schools the decision had nothing to do it because it had no real doubt a grand parade where you have always been there but they had no wish that that manner in which it could be done and it's become a voluntary basis is the houston school district if this time we encourage iran the opening ceremonies and one of the meetings are open with the recognition and in analog where we get that we don't require and expect
around a voluntary basis of any guidelines you know the teachers and school districts are proposing literally over you oh this is that the kind of age who we invite him to have a vocal and maybe that if an unknown parties the students and they wouldn't unknown organization where people really don't believe that these people volunteering their struggles because they don't want their desperation and they generally didn't opposition elements of the ones that are running the whole thing we didn't have an opportunity to press their beliefs and their thoughts and we don't know what flavor that prayer is part of the opening exercise in houston schools as it has in many others across the state such as in fort worth but would like houston is a sophisticated metropolis in many ways fort worth is the city of under a million people
who was school board is presided over by a corporation public relations executive lloyd turner mr turner at the nineteen sixty three supreme court decision on prayer in schools company direct action by the fort worth school board no sir we have had enough of the roof is to make policy on the bodily and then it has been essentially the same for many years i've been first and we have been following policy from our policy many of the volunteer reading without comment of the holy bible but students featured principles and the work of the rules that permissible but not mandatory also silent prayers are nonsectarian prayers are permissible influence upon request maybe is really their activity the only statement an ipod denial about this we have the same statement and under new regulation pertaining to teach this when i put a bomb under the rules and regulations that any
involuntary cry or to your knowledge are think about the worst schools in the state i would assume so but i i can't say since that strictly up to the individual grants over the cajuns whose is that just thirty miles to the east of the lies the sprawling metropolis a balance footwork and balance our sister cities by distance but that falls apart in attitudes dallas is a city of contrasts in many respects and the question of prayer in public schools finds no simple answer here until recent years that was frequently was described as the southwest most cosmopolitan city of massey university's a fashion center modern and progressive architecture and all of this is quite true that as a very superficial analysis because many as the mayor of limitless perfection that it is a very deep seated unplugging
traditional isn't a traditional isn't at his home with a respect much again the sacredness that the nationalism has dramatically exemplified by the reputation that it has acquired in recent years of conservatism conservative city the tremendous amount of national and international publicity received by dallas in the past few years has caused many residents and community leaders here to deal with alarm and suspicion any inquiry from the outside such was the case when we talked with several officials of the bascom system nominally believe in that interview we talk with john matthews assistant superintendent in charge of special affair mr matthews says there is no feelings concerning is that matter in dallas he says the us has not policy on players or devotionals in the public schools mr matthews goes on to say a big
issue of prayer and about a school system and they're never have that another in spite of his apparent comprehensive knowledge of activities in the dallas who when asked whether those player bennie tight end dallas move mr matthews said he could not answer that question is that a moment ago dr gifford that the type of prayers being conducted in schools in texas are of a somewhat routine religious right measure that would this not uncommon of the ruling of the supreme court of the type of their own religious ceremony that should be outlawed well i think in general that most of the religious activities that have carried on investment would come on the supreme court may be huge but there are some places
where humans go longer day before that all things through and have appeared a prayer on the supreme court still director your attention but to get rid of these prayers which you say would come under the supreme court decision as the illegal or unconstitutional why in your opinion having not been discontinued in schools across texas well i think that two three reasons one is that they believe that these religious devotion far the foundation for teaching mom to get published things you'd have a couple of information minister of the church and parents of children to believe that this
is the best interest of students another thing is that this has become for dance you and no one will the book that the conditions school officials are not going to get into a controversial area and the church people have not asked the bay there's been no change in the actresses since the supreme court and about the same percentage of conducting the religious devotions now as they deprive the supreme court this is austin the capital city of texas often has very little different than any other state capital like here centers around the official state functions and the intellectual atmosphere of a university in this case the university of texas often also was the adopted home of madalyn murray o'hair
more social worker whose devout atheism motivated her to carry a lawsuit to the supreme court that suit which resulted in the historic decision on prayer in public schools oh well i'm living in austin texas because i was that kidnapped incidentally from mexico illegally and brought to texas set to stand trial four alleged crimes and maryland alum which later on proved a well proven to be in court illegal and unconstitutional and i had to fight extradition from austin texas which is the capital of the state of texas and when we moved here my husband fell in love with austin it's a beautiful little clean tallow and the only industries here our government and the university of texas so we like it we like the intellectual climate that we liked the physical and the geographical position of it and we enjoy the people here there has been no harassment of us at the time the supreme court
ruling is being observed nationally i think that for the most part it is being observed nationally there were big hulking at first the state of delaware you know came out and absolutely refused to subscribe to the prayer ruling and there was a case that were cleaned up through the us court of appeals in the state of delaware another holdout was the state of kentucky and done some parts of tennessee also southern california that this has diminished over the years so that now i think there is more conformity to this then there has been from the beginning on what our schools to the ruling now i speak of protect this as you know and no matter where i am on the platform people will sneak up to me afterwards and say i had a child such and such a public school and do you know theyre still praying there will you do something about it now in order to go ahead and do something about
this one must have a child in a school where there is higher and my child is not in a school where they pray as an adult that my job as a minister were they say pledge of allegiance and a lot of the challenge that in texas but i do feel that texas is one of the states where individual persons have taken it upon themselves that you introduced the prayer or continue to pray and this is out of the sort of tics and finds an individuality and approached by certain principles really feel that religious ceremony in school is a flagrant violation of our constitution and the whole concept of separation of church and state and feel that they should be across the board administered in a very severe way dealing and kindly with persons who insist on having the bible pray or indifferent did you really i'm glad that she phrased it in a particular way because
in the united states at every level of public education and private education there is teaching through religion i think that there should be just teaching our religion i think that beginning in the fifth grade that it should be for sale that their children should be forced her to start a religious education and that they should include the comparative study of all religions the study of all the young religious books the text from which we didn't spoil the correlation between the pinochet the bible the old testament as opposed to the new testament and the teachings of them to write down the line i think that there should be a tremendous study on the literature of religion on the impact of religion are historically and sociologically up on people and i think that if this happens a religion will live because that the last thing that religion could stand is an unbiased player for the
opening it into our love the mystique some histories of religion we must repeal this series kept her you can truly capable of teaching religion objective and fortune sparkle and the reinvention keeping spring or decision remember the coverage to people who are not actually going to this content of these religious delusions until they go on for some time sixty so i have a feeling that in the future we're going to have more questions about the veteran reporters about religion aside from religious art that the supreme court ruled against now one of those who is we have moved into that i can speak for the moment i believe that is going to be the trend
i think that religion as a savvy india rejected the college level and the wind and a puppy i don't think that we should ever go away with a concept that we are a christian nation nation engineer or recognized did invoke his pleasures at the beginning of a date he'd said right now
there's little question the pros are being offered in texas ruled on a regular basis school board official state wide feel quite secure the fact that these prayers are not prescribe the prayers they feel that by only urging the teachers to include prayers in the opening ceremonies of the school they they're avoiding a conflict with the supreme court's nineteen sixty three decision on the prairie issue however it was highly questionable whether the method actually years with him where all the movements movement was the urging of that period is tantamount to prescribing a prayer is of course would be a violation on the other hand the entire opinion by the supreme court in nineteen sixty three is written in such vague and difficult to analyze terms it probably will take another quick test to determine the specific application to the texas situation and until such a ruling is obtained if ever there will continue in texas who this is called was l in
texas opposition to the nineteen sixty three court ruling has been extremely low california congressman produced a petition protesting the decision signed by a hundred seventy thousand people house republican leader gerald ford reported that the bulk of his mail from his constituents in michigan insisted the letters on this one issue that senate republican leader everett dirksen led a campaign to upset the high court ruling by amending the constitution to report conditions home state of illinois i'm jack namely reporting for w t t w in chicago is a columnist and editor for chicago's american i've been recording and commenting on the public affairs of senator direction for several decades when alumni have a special interest in the school prayer issue because our senior senator is the author of a constitutional amendment which would allow school where
the heart of the derision among them is simple and direct if there's nothing contained in this constitution shall prohibit their foreign minister in any school school system educational institution or other public supported in part through the expenditure of public funds from providing for operating the voluntary participation by students are others in prayer nothing contained in this article show off her eyes and has such authority to prescribe reform our content of any prayer article one of the bill of rights which the direction amendment seeks to amend or clarify or augment states that congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof some other direction as stated that the school prayer amendment is the most important single accomplishment which he hopes to attain in his remaining years in congress eight senators constituents in on i have been
fairly representative i believe in their reactions to the school prayer controversy wherever possible while school boards tried to act as though the problem doesn't exist commencement still on is always a clergyman bless this land than the graduates and they call for god's grace and school board members and their chairs keep their fingers crossed we hope nobody raises plus a few baccalaureate ceremonies at the move their churches from school auditoriums in niles township a cluster of suburbs north of chicago some parents didn't get to prayers at the commencement exercises in high school and the prayers were dropped there was some hubbub and sometimes were meetings with the prayers remained out in the one case here which did reach federal court the opponents of school prayer lost the trial revolved around a familiar little prayer which was recited by kindergarten first grade children in a school in dekalb a college town near chicago we thank you for the
world so sweet we thank you to repeat we thank you for the birds that saying we thank you god for everything while and married to spain the parents of la or five and rogers six objected that the prayer was to a divine being and that violated their constitutional rights to korean warship the school apartment in the prayer by eliminating the word god from the fourth my so that it would rain we thank you for everything the displays were not satisfied they brought suit in federal court contending that it was still a prayer because you can only be gone the attorney for the school board testified that you referred to anyone bringing food and protection to the charts with his firemen policemen he did not say who is the new who made the birds sing in a twenty seven page opinion federal judge had one at robison who
incidentally was appointed by senator dirksen dismissed the suit with this opinion he said the nation's educational processes would become still have the courts should allow themselves to be injected into disputes such as this still unresolved is what the ruling would have been had the word god remained in the prayer senator direction was not mollified he took before the senate he said god should remain in the prayer we thank you for that world so sweet who dirksen asked us and we thank you for the food we eat only thank funded the senator they do now it's a whom they are thanking that is really quite something holding the senate in the spring of nineteen sixty four the house judiciary committee held hearings on a number of resolutions on the school prayers which were introduced in the house the transcript of the hearings covered nearly
two thousand eight hundred the printed pages which is rather substantial evidence there is a great deal of navy said the issue was senator directions for a man was placed before the senate last september nineteen accompanied by europe's information which took sixteen columns of tight race based type to record in the congressional record senator dirksen views of coursera lavishly and four we set forth in his dissertation he spoke with scorn of those who would destroy great religious traditions in our land atheists up his list of destroyers with madeline meier is primetime three thinkers pasture retire communism's goal of liberating world from north of religious belief was the target of directions but it's part of the fun here that is in the ability
to its logical conclusion it may invite repressive measures and when it does then what happens to free the senator spoke scathingly of theologians and church representatives who are opposed to school prayer and he said this the board of social concerns maybe that is the trouble with a country in the world today we're so given the social concerns that we have no time were concerned with so as i thought of these witnesses senator dirksen continued i wondered why the pastors work i wonder where the shepherds of the flock carlos russo the bedside to comfort the sick who come to the read poems to comfort those will then be re those who have guns constant contact with or for those who minister to the spiritual needs of the common word that senator dirksen
pulled up the consequences of the supreme court decision barring prayer in public schools a dayton schoolteacher phone the center on a sunday morning and said that he was discharged because he taught his pupils and of a father and a mother grace we said before meals was outlawed in some schools in minnesota baccalaureate sermons were suspended and allstate schools no nativity scenes were allowed in denver you know
and the oceans are about strange business schools are we coming from this is our part of the patter and they do not sleep they do not rest they do not tear in their efforts they mean business well we're just a little sleep well perhaps somewhat anti climactic of a report that two days after your consideration the school prayer amendment failed to obtain the necessary two thirds vote for passage there were forty nine days thirty seven days and fourteen senators did not vote senator dirksen got to his faith in the senate said mr president may i say that because in the past year it will continue the movie fargo organized throughout the country next time we wrestle with a question of voluntary prayer in our public schools some of the directions next time has arrived and jack mainly reporting w t t w in chicago it's by no means certain that direction will
get his way in this congress anymore they needed last one e as important in vocal support but so do his adversaries the pattern varies from faith to faith and from region to reach most catholic spokesman deprive the nineteen sixty three decision numbers of the jewish faith welcome protestants were and are divided many individuals especially members of the fundamentalist of nominations water restore school prayer is but the national leaders it's a major nomination is definitely do not nor does the national council of church she broke rare sentiment is most widespread in the south and in rural areas but there is no uniformity of opinion anyway reports now from nashville boston and new york i'm eugene dietz reporting from the bbc and tv some people refer to nashville as the protestant vatican of america this is a fitting title i suppose that is that if one city could claim to be the focal
point anything is diversified as the collection of religious forces court process here for example they found the world headquarters of the southern baptist convention says america's biggest protestant church it has almost eleven billion members the methodist church with ten million members of second element that this month a protestant churches and more the governing offices of the church are in nashville then another city of the country also we have a nashville the central office's elements of numerous other denominations and the non denominational vanderbilt university divinity school one of vanderbilt's authorities on the supreme court ruling as dr james thomas laney assistant professor of christian ethics what is your opinion on the us supreme court ruling during prayer in public schools that's a gene first of all what it reflects the growing secularization
of american life that there is a questioning of the so called american protestant last week have been taken for granted and most of what you think of willful violation in history any willful violation of the law there are certain records is due process and the other think that i think that whether the use of a lot of water how much we know there's no legitimate rights what are your direction and on the whole i think senator dirksen apart from its particular formulation is really an attempt to recapture a long law does not think that without reasonable by many people being blown in the law they're concerned about the increasing secularity a lot
in many ways i share some of these things are but i don't think that a proper way to attack the problem the dirksen amendment also disturbed doctor puerto rico the executive secretary of the southern baptists executive committee to file a problem with nobody here and i'm afraid that intuitive but united leuenberger problem than it is one of nine that confirmed me about the language of the amendment is their term non denominational prior we wanted to find out what is a non denominational for the main if you can operate in the name of jesus what does that mean i think that that the matter what the probability of that there have been case law built up around the first amendment that when you start the real thing that made it to reopen all of these cases and in that if you have real problems and you it's a little awkward
my own feeling it time is that it would be better to leave the fourth amendment as it is at the prime time that the reaction that i think about a southern baptist convention i think that before and we'll farm life here in detroit reverend thomas j van loon in charge of ecumenical relations with a methodist church thinks a way must be found to teach a child about religion without imposing the doctrine of the church on students in the classroom i feel if there is one of the potentially most important kinds of things providing opportunity for thinking about religion and moscow also it is one of the least developed a great opportunity and you imagine having an understanding of the middle ages without any real attention being paid to the religious forces which were worth and with the life of the village
i feel that the amendment is not needed that it might lead to considerable difficulties and there's yet another person in the post was not very well because it seems to me that the constitution and presently interpreted have quite adequate safeguards on the matter of religious freedom and religious liberty obviously no religious leader can speak for all members of the nomination on any issue and particularly on anything is emotion packed as to whether or not a child should pray in school one thing it's abundantly clear many of our version one believed that it was imperative that youngsters be exposed to the contributions of religion western culture and they believe that school is the place to do this but the same religious leaders are equally strong in their belief that it is wrong to trust the doctor
george into the minds of captive youngsters public school days it will be a long time if ever before in a general agreement is reached at what sort of religious instruction should be there as elsewhere catholics in the city of boston are troubled by society they worry about birth control portions of seen motion is pornographic literature surprisingly enough one thing really was john birch society worry about a supreme court decision granting koreans over thirty five thousand ads in the numerous parochial school in boston where large doses of religious tensions are administered as part of the curriculum obviously for these children are prayer for you
catholic children who cannot afford a parochial school to attend public school prayer meeting is no longer fashionable or even legal paul these children is a small helping of something called a moment of silence which comes packaged with the usual patriotic incantations you elimination of the daily prayer has gone without a linen sought dominantly catholic in september of course i spent some time in telling them what the purpose was a meditation period and some of them would get finished ahead of time and gradually they and to realize that it was a full minute and some of them would say oh i could say five others bought some of them would say oh i could save the
preeminent three parents aren't so as i was thinking about how i was going to get it because i heard talk about brotherhood last night and it was that sort of thing and i think it's going to be a religious duty we asked boston school superintendent william warren berger if he thought the tradition of observing certain religious holidays in the public schools was inconsistent with the supreme court decision i would say that if there is an inconsistency as first concern i think it's our ability as a school administrator is to observe all the national holidays and thinking perhaps in terms of the christmas and hanukkah season we in the boston public schools have these are not religious holidays national businesses her window display for christmas trees gardens and encourage acts
are having a child participating in this program he may withdraw the channel on this phase of our educational integration long before the supreme court and prayer schoolroom massachusetts religious leaders work convinced that such recitals where dudley small gesture they set about reinforcing spiritual education by arranging to have a state law that would allow children to be on our own religious training these children are the fourth fifth sixth graders who regularly attend henry green school in hyde park every friday afternoon all one hundred and sixteen of them go down the street to the most precious blood parochial school for an hour of religious training another group of eighteen protestants attend similar clashes in a nearby church
while our intensive religious training a week seemed to be much better than a daily reading of the lord's prayer even the snow has not completely satisfactory to the right reverend russell rebello the man in charge of the really spying program when the archdiocese i think one of the basic difficulties in the program is the actual amount of instruction time that is available youngsters are at least for a period but by the time they're escorted from a public school to the parish facility where they're going to be instructed by the time they quieted down attendance is taken and materials and that also like to heal up instructional time has been wasted so that you know i think many of the teachers consider them very fortunate if they have perhaps a fifteen to twenty minutes of actual instruction time and that's a very serious defect on the other hand though we are very grateful in most instances that we have
always told him because some parents would not see that their youngsters that any religious inspection accepted so readily made available to them through the release time although the crime writing and the boston globe lamented the supreme court decision with these lines now i sit me down and schools were praying is against the rule and a prayer a class recite now violates civil rights and science alone can we meditate and if god should get the credit for it all i ask is a minute of quiet if i feel like crying and maybe i'll try it if not award this plea i make should i dye in school my soul you'll take what most bostonians catholic or not would agree with
roger williams who was expelled from massachusetts and sixteen thirty six he ran a one paper is protestants jews and turks are in one show i plead that none of the paper's protestants jews or turks be forced to come to the ship's crane this is roz morris reporting for wgbh boston now
that's pretty much the way most of us started school but there's a difference the children who attend public school fifty nine in manhattan don't join in prayer this is author alpert reporting for wmd at new york art school systems in the metropolitan area of new york nearby new jersey and connecticut complying with the supreme court decision banning prayer in public schools or is there the fight anyone who is the general counsel for the american jewish committee for purposes of that report before they can live in in our air within a reasonable time the court came down the larger cities began long by which only abstain from an open class or assembly with a prayer the smaller institutions are the same and schools in smaller communities were much much
slower and in some places in now continue to recycle is not the blonde hair and no reason for the police the situation in large that go away from a large effort to police the ability of become law but a tension here of turning away from prayer and for another role for religion in a public school all performing president of the national council of churches prominent among those urging the study religion no new york area public school is yet teaching about religious tenets of mamaroneck high school in suburban westchester and just introduced an english class on the bible as literature john turner that he has been
researching the court he had a problem we used rain is just where you need warm smile big ears and this nation the same genome ormes is not victory jarrett says the aim of the course is to help you become familiar with the bible so that they may trace
religious influences art literature music and society in general john powers class of america is hardly controversial but it might be if it systematically top lieutenants of the major religion and that is what some clergyman and educated suggest we spoke to representatives of the major religious organizations rabbi gilbert epstein of the new york board of rabbis
feel that later with women but that it has no place in the local government there in the out the question going into this subject where they become different than the type of thing that they were riding with the consideration of the very fundamental question of the fact that a forty five parents either monsignor john p brady is principal of the cardinal spellman high school in the rock it should not be shying away from in the public school classroom i think we should encourage our teachers who won't speak about religion and teach about religion when it arises naturally in the correct
and i don't think that on the elementary and secondary level and he'd be any special more separate courses but wherever religion is to be a given attention in the election on social studies another subject ben such attention should be given and if our teachers need preparation and i'm quite sure they do then we should be making the effort to repair them in this respect ben carter of the protestant council knowing that this is permitted and even in some way to encourage the thing that would violate you do among the problems are they we're here fair treatment to all different religions and has presented it will not favor one religion over again try to be objective but these are questions of faith and many different subjects teaching there is nothing of the content
that would make it possible to find solutions to the problems clearly the religious establishment is far from united on within the thinking about religion in the public schools and schools and basically the fed will move very slowly they may not teach about religion well an earful of convenience and years that in some larger school districts in our area are complying with the supreme court decisions some rural district are not at her teaching about religion well it's still a plan not reality author alfred w and the key here critics of the school prayer decision are people who dislike the president's supreme court generally and who disliked especially its school desegregation ruling nine years earlier ironically however some negroes school officials also deplore the prior decision and offbeat report from a southern community
and so when my village at the university of georgia television wearing calvin joyner on all negroes who integrated only finished that it won white feature the principle is well as my way we'd carry on the same practices in regard to prayer and the pleasure and designate before the supreme court decision or haven't read one of his poems reviews where to and all i could overcome their life be like
oh really and this is not less passionate about well he may get me to navigate past me it means that the steel was used a lot last so meet me in the gate law while to get out of the eu brian asked
away of like wow they waited so long line that's not on foreign assistance is suicide especially important of cows are those who absolutely lot of all of us these songs
is that right i'm renee montagne mr malek interpretation that's through where could finish their degree of racial killings in this is unusual other than that around the southeast the supreme court decision is generally observed in the bridge and georgia this place to superintendent sent out a letter explaining the decision that placed no by an atlanta broadcasting for a whisk through loudspeakers was thought otherwise throughout the area schools everywhere of bootlegging moments of inspiration
and although they're not supposed to which decisions of the supreme court is at the top one is a moment came to roll call last september senator dirksen carried a substantial majority of the senators voting but not the two thirds majority needed to amend the constitution in january the senator reid introduced his measure somewhat different form but has since said little about no hearings have been scheduled senate action this year is considered highly unlikely production was powerful and resourceful and the issue is important too he credits his own prayer as saving it is doctors' condemned eighteen years ago mostly controversy continue but in many parts of the country as we've seen in the last hour school prayer is also continue officially prescribed or not reading there's bees
Regional Report
Episode Number
School Prayers
Producing Organization
National Educational Television and Radio Center
Contributing Organization
Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
Most Texas schools have defied the Supreme Court ruling banning ritual prayers. They have justified this defiance by inserting voluntary prayer, generally led and sometimes composed by students. This system, according to a Houston school board member, contrasts with the outlawed prescribed, compulsory prayers. Not only is school prayer still permitted in Texas it is encouraged by school boards, communities, and the local press. This point was made in interviews in Houston, Fort Worth, and Austin. In Dallas, where the same attitude prevails, no one from the school system would appear on the episode, as a result of suspicion toward inquiry from the outside. Mrs. Madeline Murray OHare, the woman who carried the original case against school prayer to the Supreme Court, is interviewed at her Austin home. She describes continuing prayer here as Texan defiance, and recalls various areas of the country which originally balked against the court ruling. Now, even in Texas, she is often confronted by parents asking her to do something about the prayers in their childrens schools. She adds that if religion is ever studied in the schools, it will die, since it cannot stand the unbiased glare of publicity. Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois is meanwhile proposing an amendment to the Constitution which would permit voluntary prayer, Jack Mabley, reporting from Chicago comments on the amendments progress and shows scenes of the Senator in his most forensic vein, lamenting I wondered where the shepherds were when school prayer was banned. Last session, the prayer amendment failed to gain the necessary two-thirds vote though it achieved 49 yeas among the 86 votes cast. Dirksen will try again this session. In Nashville, headquarters for various Protestant religious groups, REGIONAL REPORT talks with three ministers opposed to the Dirksen amendment. One describes it as an attempt to recapture a lost ethos for that reason it will fail. In Boston, public schools have instituted a moment of silence during which the episode shows come Catholic children crossing themselves. The state of Massachusetts now allows an hour each week during which children can leave school for specific religious training. In New York, religious leaders debate the value of teaching religion in secondary schools. The episode visits Mamaroneck, NY, scene of one such experiment in The Bible as literature. Sylvan Meyer of WGTV, Athens, GA, visits a Negro school where prayers continue. The principal explains that prayer is the only weapon available to the Negro child. Around the Southeast, Meyer says, school are bootlegging moments of inspiration. REGIONAL REPORT #14: SCHOOL PRAYERS is a 1967 production of National Educational Television. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Series Description
A series of bi-monthly interpretative regional reports focusing on local aspects of important national issues. For the series, a network of regional editors made up of experienced newspaper and magazine reporters was set up at key places throughout the United States to examine the specific nature of the problem in their localities. The 19 episodes that comprise this series varied in length from 60 to 90 minutes and were all originally recorded on videotape, except for the first episode, which was originally recorded on film. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
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Politics and Government
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Moving Image
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Editor: Niven, Paul
Executive Producer: Weston, William
Interviewee: O'Hare, Madeline Murray
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
Reporter: Dirksen, Everett
Reporter: Meyer, Sylvan
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Library of Congress
Identifier: cpb-aacip-cdd508d0da9 (Filename)
Format: 2 inch videotape
Generation: Master
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Chicago: “Regional Report; 14; School Prayers,” 1967-03-29, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 28, 2023,
MLA: “Regional Report; 14; School Prayers.” 1967-03-29. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 28, 2023. <>.
APA: Regional Report; 14; School Prayers. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from