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‘Uphill Battle Before Us’ for Prayer in Classrooms, Reagan Tells Alabamians

Associated Press

President Reagan, responding for the first time to this week’s Supreme Court ruling on public school prayer, said today, “We still have an uphill battle before us” to bring prayer to the classroom.

In remarks at a fund-raiser for Sen. Jeremiah Denton (R-Ala.), Reagan praised the senator’s efforts to pass the “Equal Access Act,” which Reagan said would “make sure that student religious groups have the same rights as other student groups.”

As for the high court’s ruling Tuesday, which stemmed from an Alabama case, Reagan said: “I know there has been a strong push here in Birmingham to help restore voluntary prayer in public schools. As this week’s Supreme Court decision shows, we still have an uphill battle before us.”

The court ruling in a case from Mobile forbids daily moments of silence if students are told they may pray during that time. The 6-3 decision strongly reaffirmed the court’s 1962 ban on organized prayer in the public schools.

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High School Audience

Earlier, Reagan pitched his tax plan to a sweltering high school audience in Atlanta, telling his listeners that if the present system were a movie, it would be “Revenge of the Nerds” or “Take the Money and Run.”

If it were a record, it would be the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” If it were a television show, it would be “Foul-Ups, Bleeps and Blunders.” Or, perhaps, “Gimme a Break.”

And if the Internal Revenue Service had a theme song, he said, it would be the rock group Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” which tells the listener:

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“Every breath you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you.”

His audience applauded the comparisons.

‘To Take Less Money’

More to the point, Reagan told the audience at Northside High School that teens who have held part-time jobs realize “what Uncle Sam is taking out” of their paychecks.

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“We want the part of your check that shows federal withholding to have fewer digits on it. And we want the part that shows your salary to have more digits on it. We’re trying to take less money from you and less from your parents,” Reagan told the students.

As many in the gymnasium wiped sweat from their brows, Reagan joked that he had the power as the nation’s commander-in-chief to prescribe the uniform of the day. With that, he doffed his suit jacket. Others followed suit.

The gym was so warm before Reagan spoke that the Air Force used a portable air conditioner in an attempt to bring the temperature down.


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