Category Archives: The First Amendment

Historic Court Case Takes On Freedom Of Religion

Town Of Greece, New York v. Galloway, Et Al paves the way for legislative prayer.

On May the 5th of this year, there was a significant decision by the highest court in our nation on a question involving religious liberty. 

For about 15 years, the town council of Greece, New York has been making a prayer, delivered by local clergy persons, as part of their openings of meetings. The prayersSupreme Court of the United States were headed by clergy specifically from the town of Greece, a town of about 94,000 citizens with a majority Christian population. In 1999, newly elected town supervisor, John Auberger, decided to replicate the prayer practice he had found meaningful while serving in the county legislature. The prayer was intended to place town board members in a solemn and deliberative frame of mind, and follow a tradition practiced by Congress and other state legislatures. A town employee would contact congregations listed in a local directory to find clergy who could deliver the opening prayer, rotating a different member each month.

Certain citizens who have attended the gatherings filed a suit alleging that the prayers violated the “Establishment Clause” of the first amendment of the United States constitution. This clause in essence prohibits the United States from officially recognizing one religion over another. Among other things, the plaintiff citizens complained that the prayers favored one religion over the others, ad that there was no attempt on the part of the council members to find a diverse number of prayer givers, as well as a more inclusive prayer content. Continue reading Historic Court Case Takes On Freedom Of Religion