The Supreme Court released its decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway on May 5, 2014, saying official prayer at local government meetings may be constitutional.
The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, opposing the town’s practice of opening municipal meetings with government-sponsored prayer. The brief says the practice “infringes the liberty of conscience of not just religious minorities, but also of Christians who believe that worship should be voluntary.” It explains the strong historical support for freedom of conscience from the Founders and our Baptist forebears, the difference between this practice and the practice of congressional chaplains, and the limits of prayer in government contexts previously established by the Court.
“By opening a local government meeting with an exercise of religious devotion, a political assembly is transformed into a religious congregation,” said Holly Hollman, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee. “It is because of — not in spite of — the importance of prayer and religion that we object to this government assumption of religious functions,” Hollman said.
Here are links to resources from the Baptist Joint Committee:
Full BJC brief (link downloads the document as a PDF)
Recap of oral arguments from BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman
An examination of legislative prayer practices generally from BJC Staff Counsel Nan Futrell
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