Supreme Court Oks Prayers Before Public Meetings


In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled today that prayers said before the town council meetings in Greece, NY do not violate the Constitution.

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority decision which said in part that there is a historical precedent for opening legislative meetings with a prayer that the even though the prayers offered at the New York town’s council meetings were predominantly Christian in nature, they were not coercive but rather “evoked universal themes” such as “calling for a spirit of cooperation.”

From Today’s Catholic News:

Kennedy wrote that the “inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers.”

He said that unless the prayers “over time denigrate, proselytize or betray an impermissible government purpose” they will “not likely establish a constitutional violation.” He also wrote that because the town had followed a policy of nondiscrimination it was not required by the Constitution to search beyond its borders for those who could offer non-Christian prayers in an attempt to provide balance.

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  • Manny

    Nice of them to allow a few liberties in this unfree country we now live in. I guess I should be grateful.

  • Theodore Seeber

    It isn’t the town’s fault that other faiths failed to show up.

  • Bill S

    It is my understanding that there is no comparison between the type of prayers that the majority of the justices have in mind and the type of prayers being said prior to the Greece, NY town meetings, the former being general and inclusive, the latter being sectarian and divisive.

    These Supreme Court decisions all seem to divide the vote between four conservatives and four liberals with Kennedy being the swing vote. It could be said that for all intents and purposes, Justice Kennedy is the Supreme Court. He clearly shows that he is not really understanding the way the Christian majority in the town is imposing its religion on the non-Christian minority.

    The bottom line is that it is impolite and ignorant to start a public meeting with a Christian prayer. They just shouldn’t do it even if the court says they can. It’s not fair to a non-Christian who has to come before the Town for approval of a proposal. There is just no place for religion in any government sponsored activity. I wish Kennedy had thought this through before casting his vote.

    • FW Ken

      Interesting that when SCOTUS goes you’re way, it’s the Law of the Land.

      What you think is impolite and rude is irrelevant. It’s now a constitutional right. And by the way, I’m not a fan of public prayers like this, but it’s not to spare your tiny feelings.