Like you, I always enjoy speaking before a college or university audience. And, I am always impressed by the quality of questions asked by students. My remarks at Hamilton College in New York coincided with Constitution Day.
The truth is that every day should be Constitution Day. But September 17th is a special day. On that day in 1787, the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution – a day that changed the course of history.
Constitution Day provides us with an opportunity to focus directly on what I believe to be one of America’s greatest strengths – the Bill of Rights – specifically celebrating the freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
You and I debate this topic regularly in this space, and now more than ever, this topic seems to be on the minds of Americans – students and adults alike.
The First Amendment Center has issued a new public opinion poll on church/state issues.
Among the results:
- 75% of those polled said students should be able to speak about their faith at public school events.
- 80% think student speakers should be allowed to offer a prayer during public school events.
- 76% support Congress or the President declaring a National Day of Prayer.
During my remarks at Hamilton College I was reminded that these academic settings really are the marketplace of ideas – where there is diverse opinion. As we discuss the ongoing debate on church/state issues in the public arena, let’s not forget the important role that our nation’s colleges and universities provide – an ideal setting to discuss and debate all beliefs.
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