Court: Town Didn't Try Hard Enough to Find Non-Christian Prayers

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Court: Town Didn't Try Hard Enough to Find Non-Christian Prayers

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a New York town board's practice of opening its monthly meetings with prayer was unconstitutional because the town didn't try hard enough to find non-Christian speakers -- even if that meant going outside its borders to recruit them, Christianity Today reports. The town of Greece has opened its board meetings with prayer since 1999, and all the prayers were offered by Christians until 2008, when two residents complained about the tradition. The town had representatives of other religions offer four of the next 12 prayers, but the residents filed suit once the prayers went back to being Christian-only in 2009 and 2010. A lower court sided with the town, but three Second Circuit judges reversed its ruling, stating that "an objective, reasonable person would believe that the town's prayer practice had the effect of affiliating the town with Christianity" and that the town's "process for selecting prayer-givers virtually ensured a Christian viewpoint" because it didn't actively solicit non-Christian speakers or -- given that the town has no non-Christian congregations within its borders -- go elsewhere to recruit them.

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