Supreme Court Approves Mostly Christian Prayers at Town Meetings

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

A 5-4 decision today upholds the right of Rochester suburb Greece, New York, to kick off its government meetings with a little shout-out to God for making the whole thing possible. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority that "ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define."

Justice Elena Kagan argued in a dissent that "Greece's town meetings involve participation by ordinary citizens, and the invocations given — directly to those citizens — were predominantly sectarian in content" — as well as almost always Christian — and "that practice does not square with the First Amendment's promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share in her government."

The ACLU added, "Official religious favoritism should be off-limits under the Constitution. Town-sponsored sectarian prayer violates the basic rule requiring the government to stay neutral on matters of faith."