Monday, May 5, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Prayer at Town Meetings

Posted By on Mon, May 5, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Every day in America, someone opens a public meeting, hearing or legislative session with a prayer. And almost as often, someone challenges its appropriateness.

But this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that an upstate New York town could open its meetings with a prayer from a "chaplain of the month." Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that "ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define."

But Justice Elena Kagan said the prayers didn't reconcile with the "First Amendment's promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government."

Two residents of Greece, N.Y., had sued, saying the prayers contradicted the First Amendment's prohibition of government establishment of religion. But a previous 1983 U.S. Supreme Court ruling had upheld the use of prayer in such settings because they "were deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country."

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