The Supreme Court Will Soon Rule on Invocation Prayers

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses the upcoming Supreme Court case Town of Greece v. Galloway:

You can read more about the case here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Ouch — it would be a disaster. I hope for a favorable decision.

  • Jasper

    It’s the same problem with the Christmas display “lotteries” – they KNOW that a Christian is most likely to win, and it’s nothing more than a jest that they’re trying to be “fair and open” about it.

  • Julio Rosario — I’m looking forward to this ruling. I’m a member of MA and we’ve had issues with Rowlett because of it.

  • Mick

    Whatever the Supreme Court comes up with, there will be loopholes galore. You’ll still be trying to stop Council prayers fifty years from now.

  • the moother

    Religions can never be trusted to be inclusive. That’s the whole point of religion, isn’t it?

    That’s why we need laws to level the playing field. I have no faith in the SCOTUS, unfortunately, but I’m still hoping for the best.

  • DougI

    Since at least two justices don’t care what the Constitution says I would hope the other 7 can read.

  • Ricky Smith

    I’ve tried to bring a lawsuit here in my home town of Danville KY over their Christian prayer. So the Danville City Hall, and Boyle Co. Fiscal Court decided to do non denominational prayer and was supported by law. Now they are starting ease back into Christian nature prayers as starting out with “Dear Heavenly Father. But since this is going to the US Supreme Court, it puts it in limbo. No lawyer will take it now because they want to hear what kind of ruling Supreme Court will have. If they allow prayer at government meetings, then it will be a complete tear down of Separation of Church and State. If prayers are allowed, it will start singling out people of different faith, and lack of. You would have to be a Christian to run for local government office, or act to be a Christian, as they are a majority.

  • Joe_JP

    They are going to continue to allow invocations. That’s no mystery. The Supremes took this case most likely to overturn the lower court. The best case scenario to me is a narrow ruling that still leaves some limits to these things, so if some locality tells a Wiccan they aren’t able to give an invocation, it could be stopped. [Or, some atheist with a non-theistic message -- that's possible. Some legislator actually did that recently. It might have been covered here.]

    The basic problem here to me is two-fold. One, they had a moment of silence law until 1999 and then suddenly changed it to this policy. This needlessly, and not like decades ago (this might concern Breyer — see his votes in the Ten Commandment cases), led to a more divisive policy, even if you think some sort of moment is appropriate at the start of the session. The moment of silence approach did that.

    Two, it is set up to favor local religions and in a small area, that will not be diverse enough. It’s better for the U.S. Congress, which now actually has a few different faiths, since we are talking the nation at large. Also, locally the public is going to be present when this occurs, given how things are set up. The USSC is likely to say that they didn’t intend to favor certain religions and looking at the prayers is too intrusive. But, that is the clear effect.

    Kennedy is the swing justice here. So, some prayer is going to be allowed. Marsh v. Chambers won’t be overturned (good case to read, including the dissents). There is room for minimalism though.

  • JET

    I can’t think of anywhere other than government meetings where it’s considered necessary to start off with anything resembling a prayer, invocation, or moment of silence. This is just a way to show off for one’s (potential) constituents. If you can’t start a public school day with any prayer, why can you start an official public meeting with one? Kids have rights that adults don’t?

  • Joe_JP

    You can start a school day with a moment of silence and the rules are stricter for students since they are minors and in a more coercive environment. The practice is “considered necessary” in other places, anyway, such as football games. It might not be a good idea, of course.

  • Derrik Pates

    Well, the difference is that kids don’t have a choice about being there. The representatives have to go through the whole getting elected process, so they presumably *want* to be there. Of course, that doesn’t take into account the disenfranchisement of voters/citizens who aren’t part of that religion from the political process, but I’m guessing that’s roughly their thought process on it…

  • Joe

    You are really friendly, hence, I don’t get the less legible headline about being the friendly atheist. I’d suggest making it more legible (ie, friendly). :) Also, all of the required stuff below I found less than friendly, but ok…

  • GeorgeLocke

    Hi Joe. Can you help me understand what you’re saying here? Which headline? I’m not sure what required stuff you are referring to. (not sarcastic. don’t know what you mean.)

  • Jenn

    I think he’s referring to the cursive-y font of “Friendly Athiest”. I can’t read it, either. Not sure what he means by “required stuff below.”

  • GeorgeLocke

    but it’s an ambigram! If you’d read your Dan Brown, you’d know that only like 3 ambigrams were ever made, so this one is like, totally amazing.

  • Tobias2772

    Man, I pray those old bastards get this one right.