If you thought that this was already settled law (thanks partly to the City of Burbank), then think again. It’s a new Supreme Court these days, and the religious fundamentalists are just itching to force the rest of us to worship to Jesus H. Christ whenever they can.
And they’ll get away with it this time too, regardless of the fact that to hold these kind of clearly sectarian prayers under the jurisdiction of a public agency is the same thing as giving them an official imprimatur:
The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will hear a case on whether or not prayer may be offered at government meetings. The justices agreed to determine if an upstate New York town council violated the Constitution’s Establishment Clause by beginning meetings with prayers invoking “Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” “Your Son” and “the Holy Spirit.”
As reported by USA Today:
The religious expression case, which comes to the court from the town of Greece, N.Y., focuses on the first 10 words of the First Amendment, ratified in 1791: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
That Establishment Clause was violated, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year, when the Greece Town Board repeatedly used Christian clergy to conduct prayers at the start of its public meetings. The decision created a rift with other appeals courts that have upheld prayer at public meetings, prompting the justices to step in.
Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based Christian non-profit group, appealed the case to the Supreme Court. It is supported in separate briefs by 49 mostly Republican members of Congress and 18 state attorneys general.
Of course. Who else? They’ve been working on this for years in the different courts. Rust never sleeps, nor do the forces of evil.
None of this has anything to do with defending religion, or free expression either, regardless of how these zealots try to frame the issue. Contrary to their dishonest claims, you can pray whenever you want to in our council chambers. You can even pray up at the dais during the formal oral communications period, so long as what you’re praying about is Burbank-related and the council can do something about it.
But what you cannot do — until the Supreme Court changes the law soon, which they will — is have a public body pray to Jesus or Allah or anyone else in particular. And as part of their official ceremony, that is indeed what they are doing whenever they do it.
When Irv Rubin first sued Burbank over this horrible practice back in the late 1990s (we used to have local reverends who’d make the assembled crowd pray to Jesus all the time during our many city council meetings), he won his case at every judicial level. The Supreme Court back then even refused to hear Burbank’s stupid appeal, that’s how obvious the issue was, and Burbank’s loss helped set the precedent of no sectarian prayers elsewhere.
But it’s a new day now, and this current Court will soon be changing things. That of course is why they were installed in the first place, and why they have agreed to take on this case now.
BTW … our local school board dropped these group prayers long ago. We don’t even think that Glendale does them any more at their city meetings, these religious invocations. So why do we still?
Oh, we’re so pious and conscientious around here, aren’t we. God bless us all. We’re on the side of the angels.