In view of the growing tendency of public school administrators, local boards of education, state and national educational authorities and the courts to ban the long-standing traditional practice of reading the Holy Scriptures and offering prayer in the public schools, the National Association of Evangelicals desires to make its position clear.

The NAE strongly upholds the American constitutional principle of separation of Church and State.

We are deeply concerned, however, that so many citizens and courts fail to distinguish between “establishments of religion” (distinctly specified in the first article of the Bill of Rights) and religion itself, and we deplore the tendency to play into the hands of the forces of irreligion and atheism in the interpretation of this principle of separation.

The separation envisioned by our forefathers in drafting the First Amendment of the Constitution is specifically defined by the words “established” and “free exercise.” The latter assumes that religion is one of the pillars of our national society and that no law nor any interpretation of law shall interfere with its free exercise in any area. The former indicates a refusal of the government as such to identify itself exclusively or preferentially with any sectarian organization or established church.

Separation of Church and State meant to them the building of a statutory wall that would prohibit the development of an established Church, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic or some other, which might control in legislation, judicial decisions, administrative policy or other governmental functions.

The divorcement of God and religion from the state was not what our founding fathers had in mind in drafting this law. They, as Godfearing men, had not the slightest intention of building a godless nation. The minority which is trying to remove deity from our culture is forcing the task of rewriting American history which depends so heavily on faith in God who has given us our inalienable right s and life itself.

The American public schools have, until comparatively recent years, reflected this consensus of American opinion and have acted on the principle that future citizens of America must have a respect for God, for religion and for the Judeo-Christian morality set forth in the Holy Scriptures. This conviction and the practices that perpetuate it is not under fire today by the majority of American citizens, but by minorities.

The NAE believes firmly in the separation of Church and State but holds that this by no means implies a surrender to secularism and atheism through the exclusion from our public schools of all reference to God, the supreme object of all learning and wisdom, and of all reference to His laws, which must be the basis of true prosperity for men and for nations.