Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/20/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Spoiler alert, of course it is.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday that it will hear a case challenging prayer before town hall meetings. The question is if prayers offered before a town meeting violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

The Republic was founded on faith.

The Republic was founded on faith.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/20/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: payer, town, hall, meeting, Christian, atheist, Supreme Court, First Amendment


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A Jew and an atheist have sued the town of Greece, New York, for starting each town hall meeting with a prayer. The case of the Town of Greece v. Galloway is whether or not the town's tradition of hosting prayer before meetings violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Susan Galloway, who is Jewish and Linda Stephens, who is atheist, collaborated to bring the case to court, after the city officials refused to stop the practice of prayer before meetings.

The town of Greece has a long tradition of opening meetings with prayers. All religions and all prayers are welcome. Anyone can deliver an invocation, although the vast majority of prayers have been Christian.

The individual selected to deliver the prayers is pulled from a list that anyone can join. Before each meeting, an individual is selected from the list and notified of the opportunity. Traditionally, city officials bow their heads or make the sign of the cross and the Christian prayers end with "Amen."

Galloway and Stephens objected to this tradition and sued. A federal judge rejected their claim. However, Galloway and Stephens appealed and the Second Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case. That court reversed the lower court's decision saying, "Christian clergy delivered each and every one of the prayers for the first nine years of the town's prayer practice, and nearly all of the prayers thereafter." The court added, "the rare handful of cases, over the course of a decade, in which individuals from other faiths delivered the invocation, cannot overcome the impression, created by the steady drumbeat of often specifically sectarian Christian prayers, that the town's prayer practice associated the town with the Christian religion."

The Supreme Court was urged to take up the case by city officials and friendly lawyers who filed briefs on the town's behalf. Lawyer Thomas Hungar from Washington D.C. wrote a brief for the court saying, "Members of many different religious traditions accepted the opportunity to offer a prayer, including Catholics, Protestants from several denominations, a Wiccan priestess, the chairman of a local Bahai congregation, and a lay Jewish man. Under the town's policy, atheists and non-believers were equally welcome to volunteer to give an invocation."

Town officials did not audit the prayers or their content. In essence, it was absolute freedom of expression for whomever wished to participate and even an atheist could speak, if they so desired.

Should city officials be blamed that it was primarily Christians who sought to share prayers with the community?

However, lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed that Christian prayer excluded others. Ayesha Khan, a lawyer with Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the court in her brief that the city officials "exploited its prayer opportunity to advance one faith to the exclusion of others."

Yet there is no evidence that anyone was excluded, ever. Nor is participation in the prayers compulsory for any individual.

"With the exception of a four-meeting hiatus around the time of the filing of this lawsuit in 2008, the Town has relied exclusively on Christian clergy, who have persistently delivered overtly Christian prayers," Kahn complained.

Other court decisions have given mixed signals on whether or not prayer should be permitted before official meetings, an whether it is free speech in itself or represents an endorsement of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause.

Cities and towns have hosted prayerful gatherings since the foundation of the Republic. In over two centuries, no court has ever been troubled by it. Only recently as atheists have become more vocal, has the nation begun to see an organized attempt to separate the nation from its Christian and religious heritage.

It seems ironic that in a community with a very open and liberal prayer tradition, that atheists would protest freedom of expression.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will weigh in on the side of freedom of expression. However, even if the court renders a hostile decision, even that needn't change much. Prayer is a personal and intimate act, and unless atheists can invent thought-crime as a punishable offense, it cannot be stopped, no matter what the atheists do.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.



Comments


More U.S.

The top 5 things you need to know about the United States' quickly changing religious landscape Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For many years, Protestants made up the majority of the United States' population. A recent report from America Values Atlas tells us that, as the United States demographically shifts, this is no longer the case. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The United States as ... continue reading


EMPTY! Is there any gold in Fort Knox? Government's denial of audit raises serious concerns Watch

Image of While the U.S. government claims that about 3% of all minted gold sits in Fort Knox, recent and troubling rumors say that this is not true.

By Al Wooltin (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

About 3 percent of the gold ever refined in the entire history of mankind sits in the vaults of the United States Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, equaling about 5,000 metric tons of gold. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At least this is what the government of ... continue reading


Billy the Kid's New Mexico hideout now up for sale Watch

Image of According to legend, Billy the Kid is said to have killed 21 men, but it is generally believed that he killed eight.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a beautiful home in New Mexico, spacious, with breathtaking mountain views. It's hard to believe that it at one time sheltered Billy the Kid, also known as William Bonney, one of the American Wild West's most notorious outlaws. It is now on the market for ... continue reading


Obama spends an alarming $3 billion on Obamacare WITHOUT Congressional approval Watch

Image of President Obama's administration is being accused of illegally spending money on Obamacare without Congressional approval.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Treasury Department may be moving forward with Obamacare regardless of Congressional concerns and a lack of funding, approving a $3 billion payment to health insurers despite the fact that Congress has not authorized any payments in annual ... continue reading


Obama Administration as Global Advocate for Radical LGBTI Agenda

Image of Randy Berry

By Keith A Fournier

Robert Reilly is right. The Obama administration is doing profound damage to the very understanding of human rights. We have fundamental human rights precisely because we are human persons. No-one should support the denial of truly fundamental human rights for ... continue reading


Climate change - WHERE IT HURTS: Scientists say warming will hit nation's agricultural heartland Watch

Image of The climate change panel's verdict came as a bit of a surprise: Greenhouse-gas emissions played a substantial role in Europe's misery, but not so much in California.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There are very few positive things to result from climate change. Researchers now say that warmer temperatures will hit America where it counts: the nation's agricultural heartland. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Researchers presented their latest findings ... continue reading


WITCHES ARE BACK: Witchcraft reappears in today's popular mainstream culture in unexpected ways Watch

Image of Witches are seen in both religion and as a feminist symbol.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The idea of the witch is making its rounds through history again. Females, both young and old, are embracing the power that comes with the feminist witch in today's society. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a recent twitter post, popular female rapper, Azealia ... continue reading


Alaska lights up as it become the third U.S. state to legalize marijuana Watch

Image of Twenty-three states still prohibit cannabis outright. The other U.S. states have either legalized medical marijuana or decriminalized marijuana possession.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The state of Alaska is lighting up in celebration... following Colorado's lead, Alaska has become the third U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana use. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Voters passed the Alaska Marijuana Legalization ballot measure last ... continue reading


The Air Force pulls a B-52 from the 'Boneyard,' and you won't believe what they did with it next Watch

Image of A B-52, one of the largest and most effective bombers in the world.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the first time in aircraft's history, the U.S. Air Force has brought a B-52 bomber back to life from the Boneyard of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nicknamed "Ghost Rider," this 53-year-old bomber had ... continue reading


Fr. Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Chair of St. Peter and the Role of the Pope

Image of

By Fr. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.

The doctrine of infallibility, then, is derived from the principle of apostolic succession and from the fact that Jesus Christ promised His presence to His apostles when He sent them forth to teach all the nations (cf. Mt 28:20).  The Pope and the bishops in ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
10 Hear what Yahweh says, you rulers of Sodom; listen ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
8 'It is not with your sacrifices that I find fault, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 23:1-12
1 Then addressing the crowds and his disciples Jesus ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 3rd, 2015 Image

St. Katharine Drexel
March 3: Saint Katharine Drexel, Religious (Feast Day-March 3) Born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter