Secular Americans Condemn SCOTUS Decision to Uphold Sectarian Legislative Prayer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Secular Coalition for America today condemned the Supreme Court’s decision in the Town of Greece v. Galloway case. In a 5-4 decision, the Court found that the town’s practice of beginning legislative sessions with prayers does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. 

The Supreme Court’s decision, announced today, overturned an opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Today’s decision by the court fails to protect citizens attending local town board meetings from being asked to participate in sectarian prayers.

Edwina Rogers, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America said that sectarian legislative prayer practice does violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and actively discourages citizens who wish to avoid taking part in sectarian prayers from participating in democratic institutions.

“We are extremely disappointed that the Court chose to ignore the very blatant burden sectarian prayer imposes on the conscience of citizens with diverse religious beliefs and those without religious beliefs,” said Rogers. “Our founders went to great lengths to ensure that no American would be disenfranchised from civic participation due to their personal religious beliefs or lack thereof. This ruling violates the founding secular principles our country was built on.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State argued the case on behalf of Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, the two residents who objected to the Greece Town Board’s practice of inviting Christian clergy to open its meetings with sectarian prayers. 

Rob Boston, Director of Communications for Americans United said the decision will have serious negative impacts on many Americans.

“Thanks to this unfortunate ruling, millions of Americans will be forced to engage in—or at least listen to—official prayer and acts of worship as the price of interacting with local government,” said Boston. “This is a serious violation of the rights of conscience. The court’s decision to bless ‘majority-rules’ prayer is out of step with the changing face of America, which is more secular and less dogmatic.” Boston also serves on the Advisory Board of the Secular Coalition for America.

The Secular Coalition for America will continue to work to strengthen the secular character of the government by educating lawmakers at both the federal and state levels.

CONTACT: Lauren Anderson Youngblood, SCA Director of Communications, at [email protected] or (202)299-1091 ext. 205, cell (202)630-9725

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