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STATEMENT OF REV. JIM NICHOLLS, INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHRISTIAN CHURCHES
Reverend NICHOLLS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am actually a neighbor of yours. I live across the river from you in the State of Washington. I have a daughter who lives in Eugene. I used to work at a radio station and I watched you when you first ran for the Senate in Portland.
Mr. Chairman, as you perhaps may see from my statement, I am sitting in for Dr. Carl McIntyre who is conducting a Bible seminar in the Holy Land and thus is unable to be here. I have formally supplied to your office copies of Dr. McIntyre's previous testimony and I ask that it be inserted in the record.
I also will not take the time to read my statement, but simply ask that it be inserted into the record. I do have a few comments that I would like to make.
We have, for quite a while, sat here today. One thing that Mr. Kurtz said when he was here, he said that they operate within the Constitution. There are certain people in Congress who feel that the IRS does not operate within the Constitution and I understand that there are bills before the legislature which will allow the Congress to investigate the IRS and see if they are really operating within the Constitution.
You have asked a question here about the constitutionality of certain things. It is my considered opinion that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion or preventing the free exercise thereof, and for the IRS to get into here, they have intruded into an area that not even Congress has any right to intrude in. You are seeking for some guidance. You asked some questions previously, very good questions. You are to be complimented for the questions that you ask.
I would ask that you sponsor a bill, or that your committee sponsor a bill, to investigate the constitutionality of this question. It is a very serious question. I will have more to say about that in a moment, regarding the priorities and so on.
I am a Protestant. I have been in Camden, N.J. and was in touch with the head man of the Roman Catholic schools for the State of New Jersey. As we discussed school problems, the preposed, rules and regulations of the IRS and Christian schools, et cetera, he said, "We have a real problem here in Camden." I asked him what it
He replied that they wanted to show that they did not have any animosities or bias. They wanted to show that they were not against the blacks, or non-Catholics, so they opened up one of their schools and removed all restrictions as to race and religion. He repeated, "We have a terrible problem. We do not know how to deal with it."
I said, "What is the problem?"
He replied, "98 of our enrollment is non-Catholic." I will not get into the racial issue, but there was a large percentage of minorities there, too.
He continued, "For the very survival of the Christian churches. with the beliefs that we have, there must be certain controls by the church itself. Now, we experimented, we withdrew controls, and
this is what happened." Mr. Chairman, This is something your committee should keep in mind.
The IRS hearings in December, according to Commissioner Kurtz, were the most important that they had ever had, yet on the opening day he got up and walked out of the hearings and drove off to Pennsylvania to give an address in a public library and ignored people who had come all across the country to testify before these most important hearings. I think that that was a terrible affront to those people. I think that is something that should be looked into, when you look into the constitutionality question.
I can supply you more information on that.
Besides attending those hearings, I attended the hearings on the House side. Then these hearings, I have been here all day. Most of my comments in my printed statement are in the form of observation. I think I should give you some observations that I gathered of the December IRS hearings.
I was a newsman for 12 years, was listed in the Working Press of America, so I think that gives me some qualification to make some observations.
Senator PACKWOOD. You will have to draw to a close. I had been giving witnesses a little extra time, but there are more to come and we are trying to hold down the witnesses to 5 minutes.
Reverend NICHOLLS. For many years, we have been hearing about the silent majority. We have wondered why they have been silent, but during those hearings, for the first time, a large segment of the silent majority was heard. I have a list of 251 scheduled witnesses to testify in that oral hearing. What was said, was said many, many times, and I would sum it up this way.
Mr. Chairman, they said we sat back and did little, if anything, about the loss of one freedom after another. They mentioned the fact that in our public schools we can no longer call it a Christmas vacation in America today because the term Christmas is identified with Christ and it would offend somebody and not wanting to offend somebody, they took the risk of offending the whole Christian community, and all we can call it now is winter vacation. We can no longer call our Easter vacation Easter vacation because Easter is identified with the very heart of Christianity, the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus. It might offend some people. We must not offend anybody. If we are to offend anybody, let us offend the whole Christian community of America and we will do away with Easter vacation. We will just call it spring vacation.
We lost prayer in our school. We lost Bible reading in our schools. We have lost Christian morality in our schools. They went down and named each one, a Christmas pageant, the Christmas carols. There was a pastor from Denver, Colo., who addressed the chairman and the IRS and says we want you to know that we have dug our trenches. We are not losing anything more.
Senator PACKWOOD. Do you believe that the things you mentioned belong in the public schools?
Reverend NICHOLLS. Yes. They are a part of our culture and heritage.
Senator PACKWOOD. Even though they are the obvious preference of the Christian religion?
Reverend NICHOLLS. Well, you have February for black month. We have special days set aside for special studies. If this is recognized as a thing to do for the blacks, why then, cannot our Christian culture in our schools.
Senator PACKWOOD. You have no objection in the public schools, paid for by everyone, that many non-Christians go with their Christian peers and they use Christian bibles?
Reverend NICHOLLS. Yes. It is because of this, basically, why we have this revival today of Christian schools in America. This is why we have started our own schools. We did not like the end product. We want our young people to have morals, to be clean and godly in keeping with the Ten Commandments and we are not getting it out of the public schools.
This is the last comment I would like to bring up. A doctor-I forget his name-was one of the last to testify-some 70 people testified on the closing day-and he stood before that panel and told them, now we really are not faced with the decision of what is going to happen in America. You-the IRS panel-are faced with the decision. Dependent on your decision, we may find whether or not we are going to have a religious war in this country. As for me, and I know of many thousands of Bible-believing Christians, we join with Pastor Nelson of Denver. We, too, have dug our trenches. We are not going to give in. What happens in America is your choice. You are either going to continue to serve the God of secular humanism, or the God of the Bible. The choice is yours. What will it be?
Mr. Chairman these observations are something that you, sir, and this committee should realize. There are some very deep feelings.
Senator PACKWOOD. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF JAMES E. WOOD, JR., EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BAPTIST JOINT COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Mr. WOOD. I am James E. Wood, Jr., executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs. I want to thank you, Senator Packwood, and all the other members of the committee who are here today. I also want to reaffirm my appreciation for the hearing itself and for the opportunity to appear before this committee.
The full statement of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs is, of course, in the hands of the committee, and we would like for that to be part of the record.
The Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs is an organization which this year observes its 40th anniversary in the Nation's capital as an agency speaking out on Baptist concerns in public affairs. The Baptist bodies which make up the Baptist Joint Committee have a membership of over 27 million, one-third of whom are black Baptists, historically identified with three black Baptist conventions.
Our agency has a longstanding commitment to the protection of human rights, which is at the very heart of our work, and for the
elimination of all forms of discrimination with respect to race, sex, national origin, or religion.
Nevertheless, we have opposed, and remain unalterably opposed to the IRS procedures with respect to the tax-exempt status of church schools, both in their original and their revised forms; and we support the thrust of S. 103 and S. 449. We do so because we maintain that the fundamental issues raised by the IRS rulingeven by the proposed revised revenue procedure which, in some respects, we regard as worse than the original-have to do with the free exercise of religion and the separation of church and state, rather than the furtherance of an altogether meritorious public policy of abolishing racial discrimination.
We supported the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago in the recent NLRB case, National Labor Relations Board v. The Catholic Bishop of Chicago et al.--U.S.--(1979), 99 S.Ct. 1313 (1979). We filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Archbishop of Chicago and, indeed, celebrated the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in maintaining that church schools are outside the jurisdiction of this Government agency.
The Internal Revenue Service, in publishing its revised proposed revenue procedures, has usurped congressional authority. For we maintain, Senator Packwood, that there is a lack of statutory authorization and legal competence on the part of the IRS in its regulation of enrollment policies of church schools.
We suggest that the Internal Revenue Service makes an assumption that church or religious schools were created or expanded on or about the time of court desegregation orders and that they were primarily created for racially discriminatory purposes, when, in fact, these schools were created for a variety of reasons, not the least of which were the historic landmark decisions of the Supreme Court with regard to prayer and Bible readings in the public schools as school-sponsored exercises.
The Baptist Joint Committee has vigorously supported the U.S. Supreme Court decisions of 1962 and 1963, as, indeed, 31 years ago we supported the McCollum [McCollum v. Board of Education 333 U.S. 203 (1948)] decision in 1948. We think that they were right decisions. The point is that many, many private schools have come into being under church auspices as a result of these decisions in order that these schools may be pervasively religious.
We are made uneasy by the fact that the equal protection clause is certainly in jeopardy since there is such a variety of churches and church schools in this country, which makes it almost impossible to avoid some kind of preferential treatment, for example, those schools that are a part of a parochial school system vis-a-vis schools which are individually owned, operated and maintainedsuch as Jewish and Lutheran schools. The schools of the latter constitute the vast majority of Protestant and Jewish schools throughout this country.
We maintain that the purpose of this IRS ruling is laudable, but laudatory though the purpose may be the ruling fails to pass the basic tests of constitutionality. As the U.S. Supreme Court has reiterated more than a dozen times, a government act may neither inhibit nor advance religion and such an act must avoid excessive entanglement between church and state. This ruling fails on both
counts in spite of the laudatory and secular purpose of the ruling itself.
Senator PACKWOOD. Does the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs speak for the organizations that belong to it?
Mr. WOOD. Yes. The committee is comprised of official representatives, elected or chosen by each Baptist body including the general secretaries as well as pastors and lay persons.
Senator PACKWOOD. Does the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs pass resolutions on various matters of public importance? Mr. WOOD. Indeed.
Senator PACKWOOD. Are you the same Mr. Wood that I talked to a couple of years ago on abortion?
Mr. WOOD. I might say that all the national bodies that have a position on this subject, have an identical position with the Baptist Joint Committee. The Baptist Joint Committee may take a position which is not contrary to one of the national Baptist bodies, at least not in conflict with a formulated position of anyone of its member bodies.
Do you understand the distinction?
Senator PACKWOOD. I understand.
If any of the churches-the position would be the same as the joint committee. Some of them may not have taken their position yet.
Mr. WOOD. Five times, for example, the Southern Baptist Convention has supported the Supreme Court decisions on abortion. The American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. is a charter member of the Baptist Joint Committee and, a decade ago, supported such a position and continues to reaffirm a woman's right of choice for abortion services.
When I speak today of a position of the Baptist Joint Committee, it is one which has been formalized by this body. The hearings today have been very, very good.
Senator Packwood, if I may add as a postscript, I think that in light of what you were just saying, it is wise for you to understand my place here today.
Baptists have not been deeply involved in parochial schools. The Baptist Joint Committee, and Baptists generally, have been ardent supporters of public education in this country and it remains so. But, on this issue, we feel it is a first amendment issue. That is why I am here. We see this as a clear intrusion of the IRS into the life of the churches.
We maintain that the first amendment is such that it has provided throughout our history that churches and synagogues, religious institutions and groups, may have an ethnic identity or a national origin identity and their inviolability as a voluntary association is guaranteed by the constitution. We would vigorously defend, for example, the constitutional right of ethnic churches or denominations, be they Russian, Armenian, Black Muslim, Mormon, or Korean. That is a part of the membership pattern and, as such, is guaranteed by the free exercise of religion, which is based on the principle of voluntary association.