Supreme Court to Hear Public Prayer Case

Religion Today

Supreme Court to Hear Public Prayer Case


On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case during its next term about whether a town that opened its public meetings with prayer violated the Constitution, WORLD reports. For more than decade, the town of Greece, N.Y., has opened its public meetings with prayer, almost always from Christian clergy. The town said leaders from any faith could offer prayer at the meetings, but until recently leaders from other faiths had not participated. Two non-Christian women sued, saying the prayers violated the Constitution's Establishment Clause. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the women, ruling the prayers unconstitutional and saying the town should have sought more religious diversity in those offering the prayers. That decision partially conflicts with a previous Supreme Court ruling, which may be why the court decided to hear the case. In 1983, the Supreme Court said prayer at public meetings was constitutional, in general. Since then, different courts have ruled on specific guidelines for which prayers are constitutional -- for example, some states are allowed to use the word "God" but not the word "Jesus" -- and the high court may try to resolve some of the conflicting guidelines across the country.

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