RSS
  • Supreme Court    May 5 
Supreme Court rules in favor of prayer at public meetings
ALLISON SHELLEY/Getty Images
ALLISON SHELLEY/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that government meetings may begin with prayers so long as they do not discriminate against particular religions.

By a 5-4 ruling, the court sided with the town of Greece, New York, saying that prayer at town meetings "fits within the tradition" followed by Congress and state legislatures. Since the prayer is ceremonial and not related to policymaking, the court said, it is therefore not an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

Moreover, the court found that overtly Christian prayer was permissible "so long as the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination" toward other religions. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that "legislative bodies do not engage in imper­missible coercion merely by exposing constituents to prayer they would rather not hear and in which they need not participate."

In a blistering dissent, however, Justice Elena Kagan said Greece did discriminate against non-Christian faiths by inviting predominantly Christian clergy to deliver the prayer. "When the citizens of this country approach their government, they do so only as Americans," she wrote, adding, "they should not confront government-sponsored worship that divides them along religious lines."

- - 
 
 
Load More Articles

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Most Popular Speed Reads
FOLLOW SPEED READS

About Speed Reads
Speed Reads is TheWeek.com's continuously updated collection of the most interesting, important, and trending things on the internet – delivered with concision, intelligence, and wit. Contact us at speedreads@theweek.com.
Subscribe to the Week