Justices Take Case on Prayer at Town Board Meetings

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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide cases concerning prayers at the start of town meetings and a patent dispute over heart monitors. It also issued an important administrative law decision that said the Federal Communications Commission was entitled to deference in determining the scope of its own jurisdiction.


LEGISLATIVE PRAYER

The case concerning prayers, Town of Greece v. Galloway, No. 12-696, came from Greece, N.Y., a town near Rochester. For more than a decade starting in 1999, the Town Board began its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month.” Town officials said that members of all faiths, and atheists, were welcome to give the opening prayer.

In practice, the federal appeals court in New York said, almost all of the chaplains were Christian.

“A substantial majority of the prayers in the record contained uniquely Christian language,” Judge Guido Calabresi wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel of the court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. “Roughly two-thirds contained references to ‘Jesus Christ,’ ‘Jesus,’ ‘Your Son’ or the ‘Holy Spirit.’”

Two town residents sued, saying the prayers ran afoul of the First Amendment’s prohibition of the government establishment of religion. The appeals court agreed. “The town’s prayer practice must be viewed as an endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint,” Judge Calabresi wrote.

Written By: Adam Liptak
continue to source article at nytimes.com

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    • In reply to #1 by Stevehill:

      Atheists were welcome to give the opening prayer? How does that work then? Who do you pray to?

      Whoever may be listening, please make your presence felt and save all us from irrationality and unevidenced religious belief, forever and ever. Amen

    • Atheists were welcome to give the opening prayer? How does that work then? Who do you pray to?
      Make something up and pray to that like religious people do. What is this “Cthulhu”? Maybe pray to that.

  1. Good to see that these numbties have a sense of humour even if unintentional, even atheists are encourage to lead prayers and I suppose that atheists will also be allowed to say why they do not believe in god.

    • In reply to #3 by thebaldgit:

      Good to see that these numbties have a sense of humour even if unintentional, even atheists are encourage to lead prayers and I suppose that atheists will also be allowed to say why they do not believe in god.

      Well, I don’t think an atheist would be overly welcome to express his view in a church environment. But, it sounds like an excellent idea. Atheists should be allowed to endorse their beliefs at every church service.

  2. And the argument for prayers based on longstanding tradition given for an earlier case is bogus beyond belief. I’m sure that many families in the US had longstanding traditions of keeping slaves, of sending gays to jail, of disenfranchising women. Should these all be upheld by the tradition test?

  3. From similar past posts on other examples of this type of dispute, it came down to whether the prayers were after the official start of the meeting or before. In the former case this conflicts with A-theists and others right to be present at the start without an ear-bashing with mumbo_jumbo from the religious. If before this conflict may not arise, especially if the prayers were held elsewhere and in private. Not that the religious are likely to take up that option!

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