Prayer in Public

You may have heard that yesterday the US Supreme Court rendered a decision in Town of Grees v. Galloway et al 12-696.  I’ve seen many headlines this morning (see list below).  I’ve also read the decision, which is 80 pages long and is linked here:

I urge you to at least read the summary on the first few pages.  Essentially the court found that given the historical nature the use of prayer in this country in legislative bodies and town meetings, the use of prayer in these public forums does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.  I think what many people do not understand about the Establishment Clause is that is does not mean that there is to be no religion in the public square, it is that the government cannot coerce or force people to practice religion or endorse one religion over another…that doesn’t mean that others cannot pray or show signs of faith around you.  According to the facts of the case as reported in the opinion, there were no only Christian ministers invited to give the invocation, but also those of other faiths within the Town.  I urge you to decide for yourselves not to rely on the media reporting of this issue, which in my opinion makes it far more divisive an issue.

Supreme Court endorses prayers before town meetings
Chicago TribuneMay 5, 2014

Did Supreme Court strike a blow for religious freedom? Yes… and no
Fox News19 hours ago

Prayer case divides Supreme Court justices along religious lines
Los Angeles Times7 hours ago

Justices allow public prayers at New York town’s council meetings
CNN (blog)May 5, 2014

New York Times: A defeat for religious neutrality

Supreme Court is wrong: Prayers divide

Washington Post (blog)by Richard Cohen1 hour ago