Supreme Court Approves Prayer At Government Meetings

(Washington, D.C.) The Supreme Court gave limited approval on Monday to public prayers at a New York town’s board meetings, citing the country’s history of religious acknowledgment in the legislature.

The 5-4 ruling came in yet another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the civic arena.

It was confined to the specific circumstances and offered little guidance on how other communities should offer civic prayers without violating the Constitution.

Two local women brought suit against officials in Greece, New York, objecting to invocations at monthly public sessions on government property.

The invocations, according to the plaintiffs, have been overwhelmingly Christian in nature over the years.

Memphis City Council members take part in an opening prayer and have made a concerted effort to make sure those leading the prayer are from various religions.

City Councilman Lee Harris teaches at the University of Memphis Law School and agrees with the ruling.

He said, “I think the vast majority of Americans have faith, or should have faith. Or have hope. I think expressions of faith, as long as it doesn’t not establish a religion or pick one religion over another. I think it’s probably a good idea.”

Groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation have threatened to sue the city because of the prayers at their meetings.

That group says it infringes on the constitutional right of the separation of church and state.

They call this ruling ignorant, and say they are deeply disappointed.

Councilman Harris says the city is working to accommodate those without faith, but also include different religions as well.

“Prayer may not be the right word but every city council member has a chance to invite somebody from their community to lead an expression of faith. So we’ve seen people from Jewish tradition from the Baptist tradition all sorts of Christian denominations and non-Christian denominations.”

The Supreme Court ruling states these prayers do break the law if they are meant to intimidate or convert non-believers to a specific religion.

Harris says it is not about who you are praying to, but rather a way of coming together in a city that is often divided.

“The city of Memphis is facing some severe and tough challenges. To have a little hope and have a little faith at the beginning facing some of these challenges is probably a good thing.”

The Foundation for Freedom From Religion says they hope this ruling will be overturned in the future.

14 comments

  • hank wesson

    So the government is Finnally waking up and realizing that they do need prayer now you need to put it back in the schools so you are not perfect no body is on this earth you need prayer we all do don’t be afraid

      • Hard Truths

        Please note that the religious totalitarians — the Christianists, the Theocrats — are also the RACISTS.

        The SAME people. All trailer-park Republicans with a high school education or less..

      • Hard Truths

        I meant to direct my comments about overreaching Theocrats to “Janis fulliobooze” — not Jessie Pinkman. My apologies. For that, only.

        We really need to let the Christianists to keep their delusions in their churches, and to get OUT of the public forum unless they respect other people’s faith as equal to their own — ie, NOT to be imposed on others..

        We’ve heard your yapping and braying for far too long already.

  • FUNDY XTAIN

    IF THAY AINT SPEEKIN IN TUNGS AND HANDLING SNAKS IM OFFENDED

    DIS IS A CHRISTAN CUNTRIE

    SIENCE IS A LIE

    LET YOU’RE FAITH LEAD YOU AWAY FROM REALITY

  • Janis fulliobooze

    Anytime the anti- Christian hate mongrels at the ffrf are upset, you know it’s been a good day.

  • Hard Truths

    Theocratic Christianists will celebrate this, but if they look at the decision, it does NOT provide for exclusively Christianist prayers.

    I hope they enjoy the Buddhist chants and the Muslim prayers.

    And especially Santeria rituals, which involve the (messy) sacrifice of a live chicken — which is permitted on the US Courthouse steps in Miami, per a SCOTUS decision a few years back.

    You want YOUR religion, but we’ll show you a lot you don’t know about religionS.

    Christianists in this part of the country are the dumbest, most intolerant, overreaching nitwits this side of al Qaeda.

  • anonymous

    As an ordained minister of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I look forward to opening any of the County Commission meetings with a prayer praising his noodliness. May the sauce be upon you.

    R’Amen

  • Evette

    I swear lawmakers are worried about the WRONG things.
    Children are abused…killed…and some even go to bed hungry at night.
    Men who fought and lost limbs for their country….sleep under bridges and on the street.
    I think you get where Im going with this…who really cares if someone mumbles a few words before a meeting. Or if not “legally” allowed, come on now….we all know how to communicate with our higher power without being noticed.

    • Joe

      Lawmakers are definitely concerned about those issues but they’re not going to wave a wand and create worldwide peace, heal battle wounds, and end all crime and are distracted from the task because of prayer.

      I work in IT and saying a prayer before work each day doesn’t keep me or distract me from fixing people’s computers. It just helps give me a better attitude and the ability to be patient with people who do some of the craziest things with their PCs.

      • Hard Truths

        Praying on your own initiative is fine — especially when dealing with IT issues — it’s the COERCIVE nature of institutionalized group prayer that is the problem. It is a way of pressure others to participate and condemning those who do not CHOOSE to participate, as is their Constitutional choice.

        Christianist bullies don’t seem to grasp the problem, or else don’t seem to care.

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