U.S. Supreme Court Holds Council Meetings May Open with Christian Prayer [UPDATED]

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Council Meetings May Open with Christian Prayer [UPDATED]

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Written by Don Byrd
More to come on this, but a quick newsflash after reading the syllabus of the Town of Greece opinion, released this morning.

Writing for a 5-4 majority, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy today emphasized that so long as the Christian prayers opening legislative meetings do not over time proselytize, denigrate or promote religion improperly, such prayers do not violate the Establishment Clause. Furthermore, the Court held, requiring the invocations to be nonsectarian involves government too extensively in religious matters.

Come back for extensive highlights from the opinion and dissenting opinions, or follow me on Twitter – @bjcblog. I will live-tweet as I read the opinion.

Additionally, the Baptist Joint Committee has a resource page of previous comments and columns regarding Town of Greece v. Galloway.

[UPDATE 2: The Baptist Joint Committee issued a press release this afternoon expressing “disappointment” with the Court’s ruling. General Counsel K. Hollyn Hollman said, “It is hard to square a government-led religious practice in a local municipal meeting with the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights of citizenship without regard to religion.”

UPDATE: Justice Kagan in her dissent cited the Baptist Joint Committee’s brief to the Court as she noted that many Christians believe the pressure to participate even in Christian prayer at government meetings is a violation of conscience. See the citation on page 70 of the pdf (page 15 of her dissent, which begins on page 56.]