The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the right of a small New York town to hold a prayer ahead of government meetings.
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In a 5-4 decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the court held those prayers do not violate the First Amendment’s prohibition on establishing a religion and are in line with a long tradition in the United States of allowing religious invocations ahead of legislative sessions.
“The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the opinion.
The Supreme Court case centers on the town of Greece, N.Y., where the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals had previously found that prayers offered ahead of town board meetings, as a whole, gave the appearance that the town was endorsing Christianity and violated the constitution. The Supreme Court reversed that decision in their Monday ruling.