In a dark day for the United States, the Supreme Court has ruled that Christian prayers used to open government meetings are constitutional. The ruling mocks the U.S. Constitution, and threatens the secular values upon which this nation was founded.
In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ruled Christian prayers used to open town council meetings in Greece, N.Y., do not violate the U.S. Constitution, despite the fact that consistent Christian prayers at government meetings constitute a clear violation of the Establishment Clause to the U.S. Constitution.
Previously a federal appeals court in New York ruled that Greece did violate the Constitution by opening nearly every meeting over an 11-year span with prayers that stressed Christianity. However, in a disastrous decision, a majority of the Supreme Court did not agree with the federal appeals court ruling.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the majority, opined:
“The town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition, and does not coerce participation by nonadherents.”
Kennedy is wrong. If one is forced to endure Christian prayers at a public government meeting, one is being coerced to participate, if only silently, in such prayers.
Speaking for the minority, Justice Elena Kagan‘s dissenting opinion rejected the majority’s reasoning:
When a person goes to court, a polling place, or an immigration proceeding — I could go on: to a zoning agency, a parole board hearing, or the DMV — government officials do not engage in sectarian worship, nor do they ask her to do likewise. They all participate in the business of government not as Christians, Jews, Muslims (and more), but only as Americans — none of them different from any other for that civic purpose. Why not, then, at a town meeting?
… the not-so-implicit message of the majority’s opinion — “What’s the big deal, anyway?” — is mistaken. The content of Greece’s prayers is a big deal, to Christians and non-Christians alike.
Kagan is right, it is a big deal. It is wrong, and contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, to force sectarian (Christian) prayers on non-Christians at public, government meetings.
The court decision sets a dangerous and disappointing precedent. The decision gives a wink and a nod to right wing Christian extremists eager to transform this secular nation into a Christian nation. Indeed, the court’s decision is but another step down a slippery slope towards a Christian theocracy.