Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/20/2013 (2 years 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 (2 years 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 July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More U.S.

The Catholic University of America anticipates Pope Francis' visit Watch

Image of The Catholic University of America eagerly awaits the arrival of Pope Francis to Washington, D.C.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Catholic University of America is full of enthusiastic and hopeful spirits as the papal visit to Washington D.C. comes closer.  MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - In about three weeks, Pope Francis will be celebrating faith with the students, causing ... continue reading


Prosecutors seek death penalty for Charleston church shooter Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Prosecutors decided to pursue the death penalty for the 21-year-old Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Roof, The Daily Mail reported.  MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - On the court documents filed last Thursday, prosecutors stated that they ... continue reading


ATHEISTS LOSE: A big win for religion as Big Mountain Jesus remains Watch

Image of Big Mountain Jesus statue looks upon the earth.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Atheist activists lost a years-long battle this week over the "Big Mountain Jesus statue," which has been standing for over 60 years on public land near the Big Mountain ski resort in Montana. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The statue was made to ... continue reading


Excitement builds with massive mural of Pope Francis before his midtown Manhattan visit Watch

Image of Commissioned by DeSales Media Group, the communications and technology arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn, the mural is drawing positive attention to the pending papal visit.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Excitement is building in New York City with the visit of Pope Francis this September 24. A massive, hand-painted mural, 225-feet tall has been placed in midtown Manhattan at the corner of Eighth Avenue and 34th Street, close to Madison Square Garden, where the ... continue reading


Five Chinese warships sail near Alaskan coast during Obama's visit Watch

Image of The nation of China has increased defense spending to modernize its forces. China is set to hold a massive military parade this week featuring some 12,000 troops this week, marking the 70 years since World War II ended in Asia.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Unnamed defense officials have identified a Chinese amphibious ship, a replenishment vessel and three surface combatant ships - altogether five Chinese warships in the Bering Sea off Alaska. The ships were sighted during U.S. President Barack Obama's three-day ... continue reading


Immigrants on welfare: Relevant factors often ignored Watch

Image of Workers harvest plants.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Center of Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for lower levels of immigration, released a report showing 51 percent of immigrant-led households receive some kind of welfare benefit. Benefits include Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches, housing assistance ... continue reading


Pope Francis to give United States Mass in Spanish Watch

Image of Pope Francis to deliver Washington Mass in Spanish.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal Donald William Wuerl has announced Pope Francis' decision to give his Washington Mass on September 23 in Spanish. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It's a recognition of how large the Hispanic population in the United States is," Wuerl said. "And he's ... continue reading


Obama gets votes to protect Iran nuclear deal Watch

Image of Barbara Mikulski becomes the 34th vote for the nuclear deal.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The nuclear deal between the United States, China, Britain, France, Russia, Germany and Iran has been under intense scrutiny from Republicans and some Democrats, however Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski has agreed to pledge support. Mikulski's support means ... continue reading


Pope Francis asks American teenager to sing for him Watch

Image of Valerie Herrera sings

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

17-year-old Valerie Herrera, a senior at Cristo Bey Jesuit High School, was asked by Pope Francis to sing a song. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Americans were invited to a virtual meeting with Pope Francis via satellite, which was moderated from inside the ... continue reading


Making the punishment fit the crime - Ohio judge doles out unusual sentences Watch

Image of Judge Michael Cicconetti's type of justice seems to be working, as only 10 percent of those who complete the judge's unusual sentences wind up in court a second time.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Making the punishment fit the crime seems to be the method behind Judge Michael Cicconetti's madness. The Ohio judge metes out unusual sentences in lieu of hefty fines and jail time. It must be working, as those sentenced to perform the unlikely, court-mandated ... 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, Colossians 1:15-20
15 He is the image of the unseen God, the first-born ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1 [Psalm For thanksgiving] Acclaim Yahweh, all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:33-39
33 They then said to him, 'John's disciples are ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 4th, 2015 Image

St. Rosalia
September 4: St. Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses and Quisquina, ... 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