WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest Supreme Court ruling on church-state separation is a victory for a town council in New York state that regularly opens its meetings with prayers.
The court, in a 5-to-4 ruling today, said those prayers don’t violate the Constitution — even if they routinely emphasize Christianity — as long as there’s no effort to proselytize or to denigrate non-Christians. Justice Anthony Kennedy said the prayers are ceremonial, and in keeping with the nation’s traditions. He wrote that they are designed to “acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent,” and not to “exclude or coerce nonbelievers.”
The ruling was consistent with one from 1983, when the court upheld an opening prayer in the Nebraska legislature and said prayer is part of the nation’s fabric, not a violation of the First Amendment.
This was to be expected. The United States Congress has opened sessions for more than 200 years with prayers. The Supreme Court is not about to take on a tradition like that, no matter what a bunch of overweening, busybody atheists think about it.
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