High Court Takes Up Prayer at Government Meetings

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The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to weigh in on a case involving prayer during Greece, N.Y., town meetings.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Greece officials violated the constitution by opening meetings over an 11-year span with prayers that stressed Christianity.

The appeals court said the town should have made more of an effort to invite people from other faiths.

Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, applauded the ruling.

"A town council meeting isn't a church service, and it shouldn't seem like one," USA Today quoted Lynn said. "Government can't serve everyone in the community when it endorses one faith over others. That sends the clear message that some are second-class citizens based on what they believe about religion."

But Brett Harvey, a senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, viewed the matter differently.

"A few people should not be able to extinguish the traditions of our nation merely because they heard something they didn't like," Harvey said. "Because the authors of the Constitution invoked God's blessing on public proceedings, this tradition shouldn't suddenly be deemed unconstitutional."

The Supreme Court has previously upheld prayers at the start of legislative meetings and has said that private citizens can offer prayers of their own choosing.

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