For Immediate Release: May 5, 2014
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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The Center for Inquiry expressed deep disappointment at the Supreme Court’s ruling today in favor of sectarian legislative prayer in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway, saying that this ill-reasoned and constitutionally infirm decision sets a dangerous precedent for the blending of religion and government, and sends a message of exclusion to those who do not follow the majoritarian belief system.
Town of Greece v. Galloway involved a challenge to opening prayers at town board meetings, which citizens with business before the board are required to attend. Since the town initiated the practice in 1999, the prayers have been overwhelmingly Christian in nature.
“Our Constitution demands respect for the beliefs of everyone. Sectarian prayer during public meetings of government bodies unquestionably contradicts that constitutional mandate,” said attorney Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “Sectarian prayer endorses a particular set of religious beliefs, and excludes not only the nonreligious, but those of differing faiths. It conveys the unmistakable message that those who do not share the majority’s beliefs are second-class citizens.”
Added Lindsay, “The majority’s reliance on tradition ignores the enormous changes in American society, and dismisses the concerns of the rapidly growing population of nonbelievers, as well as those who have beliefs that differ from mainstream Christianity. It’s both striking and sad that five of the six Christian justices on the Supreme Court formed the majority. With a Supreme Court that appears hostile to the rights of religious minorities, those of us who believe in a secular government must redouble our legal and advocacy efforts.”
The Center for Inquiry, an organization advocating science, reason, and secular values, filed an amicus brief with the Court last year, arguing against legislative prayer. The brief is available here: http://bit.ly/greeceamicus. The brief was written by a team of attorneys from the Washington, D.C. law firm of Arnold & Porter.