Judge Okays Prayer at New York Town Meeting

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A federal judge has ruled that a town panel in upstate New York can continue to pray at the beginning of town council meetings.
Two residents in the town of Greece, N.Y. filed a lawsuit against the opening prayers. The plaintiffs, who were represented by the Americans United for Separation of Church, argued that praying favored Christians and violated separation of church and state.

They asked the court to order that the prayers be "inclusive and ecumenical." However, U.S. District Judge Charles Siragusa tossed out the lawsuit Thursday.

"The court finds that the policy requested by plaintiffs would … impose a state-created orthodoxy," the judge said.

Siragusa also said there was nothing about an opening prayer that is unconstitutional. Praying, he ruled, is acceptable as long as there's no proselytizing or advancing one faith over another.

"The court has also considered the identities of the prayer-givers and the process that the town employed in inviting clergy to deliver prayers, and finds that these factors did not have the purpose or effect of proselytizing or advancing any one, or disparaging any other, faith or belief, within the meaning of the Establishment Clause."

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