IFAS | Freedom Writer | March/April 1991 | silvio.html

A salute to Silvio

Representative Silvio O. Conte, a staunch supporter of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion died on February 8, 1991. Conte was beginning his 17th term in the House.

We reported on Conte's support for the First Amendment in our November 1985 issue. Congress was about to enact a law designed to curb "unfavored" religion through Amendment 705, which passed through the Senate as a tag-along to the Treasury, Postal Servic e, and General Government Appropriations Bill of 1986 (HR 3036).

Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) proposed the legislation which read: "No funds appropriated under this Act shall be used to grant, maintain, or allow tax-exemption to any cult, organization, or other group that has any interest in the promoting of satanism or witchcraft: provided that for the purposes of this section, 'satanism' is defined as the worship of Satan or the powers of evil and 'witchcraft' is defined as the use of powers derived from evil spirits, the use of sorcery, or the use of supernatural powe rs with malicious intent."

Several concerned readers alerted us to Jesse Helms' tag-along measure. We immediately telephoned our representative, Silvio Conte. Rep. Conte served on the House Review Committee for Amendment 705. He agreed that the bill was unconstitutional and assur ed us that he would kill the bill in committee. He did.

Representative Conte will be sorely missed.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.