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-Supreme Court to Consider Case on Public Prayer

by Dr. D ~ November 5th, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court building.

                         (U.S. Supreme Court building: Wikipedia)

On Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of  Town of Greece (NY) v. Galloway which is all about whether prayers should be allowed in public governmental meetings.

From The Blaze:

Town of Greece v. Galloway involves a dispute over invocations at town board meetings in Greece, N.Y, a suburb of Rochester. The legal battle, which is attracting attention from both sides of the church-state separatism debate, originated when residents Susan Galloway, who is Jewish, and Linda Stephens, an atheist, complained that all meetings between 1999 and 2007 were opened with Christian-themed prayers.  …

Galloway and Stephens inevitably sued and in 2010 a lower court found that there was not sufficient evidence that Greece intentionally cut out non-Christian invocations, …

They won an appeal in May 2012 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that people of other faiths should have been included in town board invocations. While Greece used a local guide to find churches, that directory apparently didn’t include non-Christian options, so the court ruled that the town should have expanded its search beyond its borders.

Greece appealed this latter decision and in May 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to hear and settle the case once and for all. On Wednesday, the justices will hear arguments from both sides.

<Read the whole article>

Response: The Alliance Defending Freedom is supporting the Town of Greece in this case while Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS) is handling the case for Galloway and Stephens.

One interesting wrinkle that many didn’t expect- The Obama administration has weighed in as a “friend-of-the-court” and has submitted a brief supporting the Town of Greece and public prayer.

The town of Greece for its part claims that it utilized nearly every different religious leader in their jurisdiction for the prayers but the vast majority are Christian in their area. I think that the Court of Appeals made a ridiculous ruling when they ordered the Town to seek out different leaders beyond their borders. How that would be representative of the religious traditions in that township is hard to fathom.

It should be noted that the last ruling of the Supreme Court on this issue (in 1983) came out in favor of public prayer. Since then hundreds of cities and towns across America have been intimidated by the threat of lawsuits and have discontinued invocations before their meetings. The case will clear the way for a current understanding on the Constitutionality of prayers in government meetings.

It is hard for me to see how prayers before public meetings could ever be considered as unconstitutional since the very ones who wrote that document continued to carry out there own public affairs with invocations. The practice predated the founding of the country and continued for over 200 years without question until this generation. Also  traditionally the very court that is considering this case has heard hundreds of prayers before beginning their own sessions. But now it is supposedly ‘un-Constitutional’? Only if the original intent of the writers are meaningless and we are free to re-write it by re-interpreting its very meaning.

This of course is an on-going battle over whether the Constitution needs to be understood by its original meaning and the intent of the writers or whether we can in effect change the Constitution by re-interpreting its meaning to correspond to our own needs and cultural changes reflecting what we want it to say and mean in this generation. I am partial to the original intent and meaning which laid the sure foundation on which this great country was built.             *Top

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