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Rick Moran


May 5, 2014 - 12:52 pm

A pleasant surprise from the Supreme Court, which upheld the right of Greece, New York, to open their town meetings with a prayer.

The court split along liberal/conservative lines with sometimes swing vote Justice Kennedy delivering the majority opinion.

From the Wall Street Journal:

“Our tradition assumes that adult citizens, firm in their own beliefs, can tolerate and perhaps appreciate a ceremonial prayer delivered by a person of a different faith,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

Shorter Kennedy: Grow up, America.

How refreshing that a justice of the Supreme Court actually wants to treat American citizens as adults. Of course, those who want to keep religion at arms length or even eliminate it will throw a tantrum over this decision — just like any normal, healthy two year old would.

I don’t know how far this decision will stretch, given some significant and special circumstances:

The Supreme Court’s majority held that the practice fell within acceptable American traditions that are compatible with the Constitution. “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,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

The court said the fact nearly all the clergy who delivered invocations were Christian reflected no bias. Instead, it noted the predominance of Christian prayer reflected the community, where no congregations of other faiths were listed in the town directory. And while some invocations used highly sectarian imagery, such as “the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross,” many of the prayers were invoked more universal themes, the court said.

In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, while the Constitution doesn’t impose “a bright separationist line” between church and state, Greece’s policy still violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause because it produced overwhelmingly sectarian prayers at government meetings.

“Month in and month out for over a decade, prayers steeped in only one faith, addressed toward members of the public, commenced meetings to discuss local affairs and distribute government benefits,” Justice Kagan wrote, in a dissent joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. “The practice thus divides the citizenry, creating one class that share’s the board’s own evident religious beliefs and another (far smaller) class that does not.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a brief supporting the challengers, said it was disappointed with the ruling. “Official religious favoritism should be off-limits under the Constitution,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU’s freedom of religion and belief program.

The Supreme Court previously upheld the practice of prayer before state legislatures, noting that, since the 18th century, the U.S. Congress has employed a chaplain to summon God’s blessing for its own proceedings. Justice Kennedy wrote that, despite differences between Greece’s policy and the function of the town board, the 1983 precedent involving the Nebraska legislature’s practices applied equally to Greece.

The idea that a prayer said before a meeting of the town council is somehow an effort to establish a particular religion is transcendentally bizarre. While we’re on the subject, the same goes for placing a creche on the village green, or holding an Easter egg hunt on public property. Should these traditions be nixed just because childish, intolerant bullies can convince 5 berobed mandarins that up is down, black is white, and the Christian bogey man wants to convert you by placing a manger in a city park?

As the majority agreed, there is value in tradition and some traditions are so precious that any question of their constitutionality should be answered, if at all possible, in the affirmative. I don’t think this decision will translate well everywhere. Certainly, in other towns where there is a more diverse religious base, other faiths should be — and probably would be — represented in offering the prayer.

But as a statement reaffirming a basic right to worship, the decision succeeds in maintaining both freedom of religion as well as the right to keep our traditions intact.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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All Comments   (9)
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Something else.

I am an atheist Jew but I would, with 99% certainty, not object to such a prayer. Even if it mentioned such evil, controvertial words like "God". I would object to other people forcing me to pray to a being I think doesn't exist, but not to other people praying themselves or me hearing or seeing them do so.

(As an aside, frankly, if God DOES exist, and has any justice or mercy, I am quite sure he may damn me for many things, but not for the mere fact that I happened not to believe in His existence. But I digress...)

I would object, however, on the highly unlikely case that the prayer started with a call to God to punish the Jews or something similar. But I certainly wouldn't think it's the Supreme Court's business because it's unconstitutional!

Such a prayer WOULD be Constitutional, it would just be offensive and evil. But so are a million other things. I would raise hell, tape the prayer, go to the local press and publish it myself, thankyouverymuch. But what the heck does the Constitution have to do with it?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is a reassuring decision. It means that, in spite of my darkest fears, a majority of the Supreme Court can read and comprehend a simple, English sentence. It also proves that Justice Kennedy can, if he wishes, distinguish between the words "town council" and "Congress" and between "voluntary opening prayer" and "law." There may be hope for the Republic yet!
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Did you notice, BTW, that even the spam is morally superior (as opposed to merely *feeling* like that) on conservative web sites?

Spam posts on this site: "make more money by working from home!". Spam posts on liberal sites: "hot gay sex at / young lesbian teens do unspeakable things at..." (Or *cough* *cough* so I'm *told* *cough*.)

These spammers know what attracts both crowded, I guess.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
What an appalling decision. Clearly, separation of church and state means it is only legal to pay if it is done behind closed doors, among consenting adults, where and you act like an atheist in public, so as not to offend others with your perversity! waaaaaaait a minute, this sounds familiar....

So much for liberals caring about people's rights.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ever hear of something called common sense? There used to be a common sense understanding of separation of church and state. It doesn’t mean the almighty Progressive should be insulated from ever hearing the word “God.” It doesn’t mean a six year old is forbidden to read his bible on school grounds on his own free time. It doesn’t mean a cross should be removed from a veteran’s grave on federal burial grounds. It doesn’t mean the word “God” should be taken off our currency and out of the Pledge of Allegiance. It means the state doesn’t force religion on someone. Hearing a prayer is not forcing it on you.

I used to be an atheist. I worked for a Christian company that opened meetings with a prayer. Do you know how much hearing a prayer hurt me? Not at all if you’re not a whining Progressive with an agenda of something that isn’t important. Creating a victim group because we don’t have anything better to do and are really angry at our own life. And that’s what the Progressive really is.

I wonder if we had a real problem, like say another Great Depression, if all of these causes would really be that pertinent. Probably not. The Progressive would suddenly have a real problem—like getting enough to eat.

I predict in my own works that we are going to collapse. It will be interesting to see what becomes a real issue when we do. And I have a feeling “God” on our currency and in a legislative body won’t be one.

Charles Hurst. Author of THE SECOND FALL. An offbeat story of Armageddon. And creator of THE RUNNINGWOLF EZINE
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Appreciate your comment--and I'll check out your books. :-)
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with prayer..."

In other words, they admitted that the town of Greece, New York was NOT Congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion".

Amazing. I wonder if someday a 17 year old high school valedictorian offering up personal thanks to God might also be recognized as "not Congress making law respecting establishment of religion".

One can hope.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"he court said the fact nearly all the clergy who delivered invocations were Christian reflected no bias. Instead, it noted the predominance of Christian prayer reflected the community, where no congregations of other faiths were listed in the town directory."

I wanna' see what'll happen in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, when a bunch of Muslims shows up.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nothing. They'll let them pray. The "evil racist conservatives" are, in reality, usually much nicer and more accomodating than the "liberal and accepting liberals". Try having Muslims move into a posh neighborhood in the upper east side or join the local uber-liberal country club... good luck.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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