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Supreme Court upholds legislative prayer in Town of Greece v. Galloway

 
 
jcboy
 
Reply Mon 5 May, 2014 05:18 pm
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that doing something for a long enough time makes it ok. Since we've been reciting explicitly Christian prayers to open legislative sessions for so long, it must be ok. How about we remove ancient bullshit myths from our government, ok?

Supreme Court upholds legislative prayer in Town of Greece v. Galloway

Quote:
This morning the Supreme Court held in Town of Greece v. Galloway, that the town’s practice of beginning legislative sessions with prayers does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It was a 5-4 decision, split along traditional right-left lines, though there is not a clear majority opinion.
Justice Kennedy wrote for the Court, joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Alito in full and Justices Scalia and Thomas in part. Scalia and Thomas refused to join part Part II-B of Kennedy’s opinion, which concluded that a “fact-intensive” inquiry of the specific practice at issue in this case did not unconstitutionally coerce individuals to engage in religious observance. Justice Alito wrote a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Scalia. Justice Thomas wrote an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, joined by Justice Scalia in part. On the other side, Justice Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion for himself, and Justice Kagan wrote a dissent joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor.
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2014 01:55 am
@jcboy,
what this does of course is to identify an "Us v Them" classification system by "inviting " everyone to pray at the start of a public meeting.

I can see everyone who is a minor public official looking at their worldviews every time a town or township meeting is held.
I agree that its got a moresinister prognosis
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2014 03:24 am
@jcboy,
Seems to me this says a lot more about the composition of the court than it does about the decided case.

Allowing another conservative president to appoint more justices to that court is a recipe for disaster.

My opinion: The next presidential race...and the senate races from this point on...should be strongly influenced by a desire to prevent that from happening.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2014 03:39 am
Unfortunately, the way the system works, this decision will stand until another such situation is challenged, at which time, depending upon the composition of the Court, the Supremes will either refuse to hear the case, or will overturn this decision. Either way, it could be a long time that this ruling stands.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2014 01:32 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
seems to me this says a lot more about the composition of the court than it does about the decided case.
True, but the results will be the same.
Im thinking of doing a Souix death song like in "Jeremiah Johnson'
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  0  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2014 01:36 pm
@Frank Apisa,
So you were ok with the same courts decision on the ACA and DOMA?
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2014 01:58 pm
@Baldimo,
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2014 01:58 pm
@jcboy,
Don't even get me started..

I've represented clients at a city design review that started with a prayer. I'd be surprised if they shared the religion of the person praying to Jesus that the board make the right decisions. I made my face blank since I didn't want distaste for me to happen before I gave my design comments. I never did talk to the clients about it. They had generally a good senses of humor and in any case their religion choice is not my business. But I was embarrassed that they had to deal with that, assuming my guess was right. Anyway, tacky city.

The supreme court? Off the track.
The project? was ok'd and built.
The board - huge assumptions about the community they are making judgements for. Ticky tacky all the way.
Baldimo
 
  0  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2014 02:09 pm
@farmerman,
Why are you addressing this to me?
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2014 02:10 pm
@ossobuco,
every time we had meetings between the DOE and the Nations, it was customary to start with the Nations prayer (Daneh'), then , before the work started, meal was shared. Our giuys from DC hted that **** cuse they always showed up in stupid DC uits, whereas we the various contractors were all in jeans and boots nd a dark good shirt open at the colr with s many of us could afford a turquoise pendant or neck thing (which we always give away as prt of the meetings (an I got a neeato stone knife made of obsidian. (I'll sell my kids first before I part with that0.
The pryers were translted for us and always ended with
a communal wish for all who attended in good faith and right path.

Then wed get down to deciding how we were gonna clean up all that Uranium oxide and carnotite heaps all over the res.

The good s;pirit and the prayers were mostly missed by our guys from Montgomery County(and most of them were declared Christins, I was a devout atheist nd really enjoyed the fellowship)

WTF, as set said, if theres a transgression to the free expression and establishment clauses, then we will probablyhave more days in court.
Until then,Nothing is parading AS NYTHING ELSE, IN MY MIND. Its not like religion is making believe its science or history.


0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  4  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2014 10:54 pm
@jcboy,
Quote:
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that doing something for a long enough time makes it ok. Since we've been reciting explicitly Christian prayers to open legislative sessions for so long, it must be ok. How about we remove ancient bullshit myths from our government, ok?

How about we remove all religious rituals, and religious slogans, from all the halls and walls of government.

Adding a greater diversity of clergy, or prayers, really doesn't address the issue of ordinary citizens being coerced to accept any religious observance as the cost of attending a secular government proceeding. Just because we've been doing that for a long time doesn't make it ok.

When I was growing up, and in elementary school, the Pledge of Allegiance did not contain the words "under God"--that wasn't added until 1954. And part of the reason for the addition, as I recall being told at the time, was to separate us from the "Godless communists"--our nobility was in our Godliness--and putting it in our Pledge was allegedly an affirmation of that.

When President Eisenhower signed the bill approving the change into law he said, "From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.... In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or in war."

Well, I don't want my expression of fealty to my country to reflect "the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty"--I don't want my country promoting the concept of God, any God, I want freedom of religious expression, and freedom from religious expression, on equal footing. I don't want references to God in my oath of allegiance to my country. Since 1954, I omit the words "under God" when I say the Pledge, not because of any lack of spirituality on my part, but mainly because I refuse to compromise my principles and my firm belief in the separation of church and state. I don't want my government forcing me to mouth statements of religious belief as part of my loyalty to my country.

And, even though I omit the words "under God" when I say the Pledge, I still feel placed, by my government, in a needlessly awkward and uncomfortable position by having to do so. And I feel exactly the same way by having to listen to prayers or religious invocations at governmental meetings or events, or by seeing, "In God We Trust" all over the walls of my local courthouses. And, when I've had to testify for legal reasons, I don't like being automatically handed a Bible (which is generally the New Testament) and then asked to swear on it--why don't they first ask whether you prefer to do that or whether you'd rather affirm on your own word to tell the truth, which does not require a Bible or any mention of God. Again, I am placed in the somewhat awkward position of having to draw attention to myself by refusing the Bible and initiating my request to simply affirm an oath.

I am sick of the government promoting religious beliefs and shoving them down my throat. I am not antagonistic toward religion, not at all, I just don't want my participation as a citizen made contingent on my putting up with it. I don't go to government meetings in search of spiritual nourishment/guidance/strength, and I don't want clergy dragged in for that purpose, it's a secular government function, not a prayer meeting.

So, jcboy, need you ask how I feel about that Supreme Court ruling? Laughing

I knew I was losing the battle the day they changed the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. That was when the camel got his nose under that tent.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 May, 2014 04:23 am
@jcboy,
Disappointing, but not surprising.
0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 May, 2014 01:25 pm
Quote:
The Supreme Court Rules That Christianity Is Not Christian
Jeff Schweitzer
05/05/2014

For the past six years I have followed and written sporadically about an obscure lawsuit in a town nobody could locate on a map, noting to the few who would listen that this was one of the most important legal battles being waged in the country. This labor in obscurity has ended this week with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of a return to pre-revolutionary America. That the Court even agreed to take the case is a sign of the end of times.

The Supreme Court agreed with arguments that undermine our most cherished founding principle, the separation of church and state. As you absorb the folly to come, forget not that early settlers made the arduous journey to our shores in part to escape the stifling oppression of a dominant religion. The urgent need to rid the government from the influence of a single religion was Thomas Jefferson's unifying and guiding light. But Jeffersonian principles have been set aside for the convenience of promoting Christianity over all other religions. Welcome to the United States of Saudi Arabia.

The epicenter of our shift to a theocracy can be found in Greece, New York, where something seemingly innocent enough in fact threatens to undermine the foundational ideals of our country. In Greece, New York, the town supervisor each month invites a local Christian minister to open the council's meeting with a Christian prayer. Here is an example from the Reverend Lou Sirianni began with this:

"Be thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly." He ended with, "All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior."

The obvious problem, of course, is that not all citizens believe Christ is our savior. No big deal, you say? What is the problem, you ask? Would any Christian or Jew tolerate a town meeting opened exclusively with an Islamic prayer from the Quran? How would our Christian citizens feel if the meeting were opened with pleas to Allah? Or if the opening prayer was done in Hebrew? The answer is obvious and self-evident: It would be offensive, and clearly counter to the ideal of freedom of religion. That reality simply cannot be denied. Still not convinced? Then imagine an imam, bearded and turbaned, in traditional dress, standing before our United States Congress, invoking the Quran to open every session of the House and Senate. Not comfortable with that? Then imagine how every Jew, Muslim and atheist feels with each opening of a government meeting with a Christian prayer.

For this rather obvious reason the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court ruled that such public government-sponsored prayer violated the separation of church and state. If a town council cannot impose Islam on its residents, then the council cannot impose Christianity. Any effort to do so is unambiguously a violation of the Establishment Clause. Such an imposition is precisely what Jefferson and our other founder's feared most. The Circuit Court ruled reasonably; and the Supreme Court had no business taking this case.

Perhaps you think that Sirianni's prayer was an anomaly, and that opening prayer is generally non-denominational. Well, no. Here is another sample, from Pastor Robert Campbell's town hall opening:

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace." ... Father, we thank You for these blessings that You've given us and bestowed on us, and Lord, blessing us with these men and women that have governed us, we pray that You'd continue Your blessing on them. ... It's all because of what You've done and Your son Jesus in sending Him to be the Prince of Peace. And we pray for that peace upon our community. In Jesus' name, Amen."

The last sentence should remove any lingering doubt about this being a Christian prayer. Just substitute "Allah" for "Jesus" and we're living in Tehran instead of New York.

Lest you think the Rev. Sirianni's invocation or that from Pastor Sirianni were random samplings from a broad range of what god to summon, until 2008 only Christians were allowed to lead the prayer as official policy. This exclusivity is important because the Supreme Court has previously ruled, under the so-called "O'Connor's endorsement standard" that the government violates the First Amendment whenever it appears to "endorse" religion. Specifically, a government action is invalid if it creates a perception in the mind of a reasonable observer that the government is either endorsing or disapproving of religion. Well, c'mon: excluding all religions but one is by any standard an endorsement of that one remaining religion.

Yes, prior to this standard, the Court's record was a bit muddled. In 1971 in Lemon v. Kurtzman, another case involving religion in legislation, the court came up with what later became known as the "Lemon test." Government action "should have a secular purpose, cannot advance or inhibit religion and must avoid too much government entanglement with religion."

In 1983, one year before O'Conner's contribution, the Warren court ruled in Marsh v. Chambers that public funds could be used to pay a minister to offer opening prayers because prayer was "part of the fabric of our society" -- thereby excluding all parts of our society where prayer is not part of daily life. Prayer is certainly not a part of my social fabric; am I to be excluded because I am not Christian?

So, let us return to Greece, New York. A Jewish resident, along with a resident atheist, sued the Greece town council arguing that "a reasonable observer" would conclude that Christian prayer "must be viewed as an endorsement of a... Christian viewpoint" and therefore is in violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court agreed, ruling against the town, concluding that the town's actions "virtually ensured a Christian viewpoint" that featured a "steady drumbeat of often specifically sectarian Christian prayers." Ya think? This ruling is self-evidently correct based on the very words from town representatives, who make their motives clear. Pastor Vince DePaola asked, "Do I want everybody to be a Christian? Of course I do." Complaining residents should "grow some thicker skin." Really? Would he grow a thicker skin if an Imam opened the meeting with a prayer to Mohammad?

Rather than refute that rather obvious conclusion and explicit statements that the local government is promoting religion, in clear violation of the Establishment Clause, town supporters argue that the Court should "relax" constitutional limits on religious invocations. The reasoning implicitly accepts that the town is in fact violating our constitution -- but that we should excuse Christianity from its limitations. Oh? Should we "relax" our right to bear arms? How about our privacy protections under the constitution? How about the right to assembly? The right to free speech? Should we "relax" those protections? Maybe we should just scrap the entire Bill of Rights because the protections given therein might inconvenience a subset of our society who wish to promote one religion to the detriment of all others.

As a demonstration of where things will go once we become a Christian nation where everyone not a Christian has to grow a thick skin, one woman participant in the lawsuit arose one morning to find that her mailbox, once firmly in the ground near her driveway, was sitting on top of her car; part of a fire hydrant was thrown in her pool. All this was wrapped in the tolerant Christian message that the woman should "be careful...lawsuits can be detrimental."

The ruling of the Supreme Court is an embarrassing charade made possible by the radicalism of Scalia and his cohorts. The explicitly stated attempt to promote Christianity in a government meeting so obviously violates our Constitution that the case should have never even come close to the halls of our highest court. Our judicial branch of government has been hijacked by zealots who are no different than the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution in Iran. The conservative wing of the Supreme Court has shed any pretense of fulfilling their constitutional duties.

Justice Scalia has revealed his true colors well before this case. In Salazar vs. Buono in 2010 Scalia was simply baffled that a Christian cross could be construed to represent Christianity. He seemed puzzled that Jesus Christ was not broadly representative of Islam, Judaism or no religion. In asking what symbol should be raised over a cemetery of fallen soldiers, Scalia asked absurdly, "What would you have them erect? Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Muslim half moon and star?" Notice that Scalia did not offer the obvious and imminently more reasonable alternative of erecting the Crescent of Islam in place of the cross. He only suggested the absurd notion of a chimera. He is so utterly blinded by his faith that he could not imagine that anything other than a cross could serve to honor our soldiers. Would Scalia himself allow a Star of David on his grave? If a Christian would not select a Star of David then why on earth would a Jew choose a cross? Yet that is exactly what Scalia proposes. The notion that the cross represents everybody is extraordinarily bizarre, defying even the most basic elements of decency. So this how we become a Christian nation, by claiming that Christianity is in fact representative of all religions. You know, like Islam represents all religions in Iran.

But we are not now nor have we ever been a Christian nation. Let's hear from John Adams, one of our most influential founders, who addressed the question straight on in 1797:

"The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

We do not need a Church of America: What the founding fathers knew in 1776 holds true in 2014. In spite of right-wing Christian rhetoric to the contrary, that we are a secular nation cannot be denied. The facts supporting that conclusion are unambiguous, overwhelming, and indisputable. The Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Articles of Confederation of 1777, the U.S. Constitution (1787), and the Federalist Papers (1787-1788) are purely secular documents (I have reviewed these in detail elsewhere). The time has come for us to fight the arrogant certainty among Christians that they hold a truth more valid than Jews, Muslims and those who eschew all religion. What is happening in Greece, New York, now endorsed by our highest court, infects our nation with the virus of intolerance. How ridiculous, how absurd is this fight; how blatantly obvious that promoting Christian prayers promotes Christianity.

And yet in their religious radicalism the Supremes ruled otherwise, in a 5-4 decision. Their twisted logic is that as long as prayer does not denigrate non-Christians "or proselytize," then public prayer is acceptable. That presumes absurdly that invoking the name of Christ in a public meeting is not proselytizing. Would invoking "Allah" promote Islam? Justice Kennedy likened Christian prayer to "ceremony" in keeping with national tradition. Justice Kagan called this for what it is: ridiculous. She said that "our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian." Such an obvious point, but one rejected by the conservative majority in order to promote their own narrow religious views. Kennedy went on to argue, weakly, that judges should not insert themselves into evaluating the content of prayers. Really? Does it take a deep evaluation to understand that "All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior" promotes Christianity and Christianity only? If we substituted "Allah" for Christ, would the ruling be the same, that we should not evaluate the content of prayer?

But Kennedy's most egregious and dangerous logic is yet to come. In 1992 Kennedy ruled that a high school graduation was no place for a Christian prayer. But he claims the high school ruling is not relevant to Greece, New York, because "attendees at the council meeting may step out of the room if they do not like the prayer." This is offensively wrong at many levels, but let's just look at two. First, stepping out of the room forces non-Christians to reveal themselves and their religious preference while being excluded as second-class citizens. Should we make every Jew wear a Star of David? That was tried once, and had a bad outcome. Second, why should any citizen have to step out of the room in a public meeting organized to discuss local concerns? Does that not make some citizens more privileged than others?

The Supreme Court ruling is another giant leap toward theocracy. We are descending to new lows, where non-Christians are openly scorned, made to stand up in public to be identified as outcasts. Our founding fathers are crying in shame and frustration. Welcome to the United States of Iran. Every American should today weep for our country.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-schweitzer/the-supreme-court-rules-t_b_5268488.html
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  -2  
Reply Fri 9 May, 2014 01:44 pm
@jcboy,
Good Lord, the notion that this ruling is somehow ushering in a new age of theocracy into America is ridiculous.

Most of the people who "say" these prayers are just mouthing the words, and the invocation has zero impact on what they may rule.

It doesn't have a coercive effect.

Of course there are any number of people out there who are looking for reasons to be offended, but that they find them doesn't mean the offense is of any substance.

It's ridiculous to assert that these prayers have any effect at all on the ultimate decisions of the political bodies.

If they had ruled otherwise it wouldn't have bothered me overmuch.

The issue, to the extent that it has any substance, is the extent to which local governmental bodies can operate without the intrusion of the federal government.



Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Fri 9 May, 2014 08:33 pm
The issue is that a government body is promoting a specific religious point of view, without regard for those who do not subscribe to that point of view, or subscribe to no religious point of view--but who still pay the taxes that pay these clowns.
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  2  
Reply Fri 9 May, 2014 09:04 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Quote:
It doesn't have a coercive effect.


What, in your opinion, effect does it have?
None?
Then, why bother performing such speech?
Some effect?
In what way or ways?
Do you believe those who do not hold high the sacredness of Jesus are affected in any way, shape or form?
No?
Really?
Does the inclusion of Christ and exclusion, by omission or otherwise, of all other beliefs give greater weight or power to adherents of Christianity in matters before the government body?
Would you have us believe, Finn, that a baldfaced promotion of one religious faith over all others is NOT a violation of the prohibition contained in the First Amendment?
Doesn't have a coercive effect. PPPHHFFT. So what? It shouldn't have an existence; which, according to you, wouldn't matter in the slightest, given that they are only hypocritically mouthing the words.

Joe(talk about faint praise, no pun intended)Nation
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2014 03:09 am
Sometimes, the devil is in the details.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2014 05:43 am
@Joe Nation,
None

I don't suggest it has any effect at all, but that alone isn't a reason to ban it.

No, I don't at all buy into the professed offense and sense of oppression mouthed by atheists and non-Christians.

It's a tempest in a teapot. Like I wrote, if they had decided otherwise, I wouldn't have had a problem.

It's just an issue that gives sanctimonious assholes on both sides of it reason to bray.

0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  2  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2014 09:26 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Good Lord, the notion that this ruling is somehow ushering in a new age of theocracy into America is ridiculous.

Most of the people who "say" these prayers are just mouthing the words, and the invocation has zero impact on what they may rule.

It doesn't have a coercive effect.

Of course there are any number of people out there who are looking for reasons to be offended, but that they find them doesn't mean the offense is of any substance.

It's ridiculous to assert that these prayers have any effect at all on the ultimate decisions of the political bodies.

If they had ruled otherwise it wouldn't have bothered me overmuch.

The issue, to the extent that it has any substance, is the extent to which local governmental bodies can operate without the intrusion of the federal government.

Whether is has any effect or not, this is unconstitutional. The government is simply not allowed to sponsor religion. Why should an atheist have to hear an officially sponsored prayer at a government meeting? Doesn't the government represent him too?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2014 10:32 am
@Brandon9000,
Well apparently 5 justices don't agree with you and like it or not they have more say than you.

Saying a prayer at the beginning of a governmental session is not supporting the establishment of a state religion.

An invocation at the start of a government session is not an indication of whether or not the representatives represent atheists. If government officials who subscribe to a given faith are unable to represent an atheist, keeping them from saying a prayer isn't going to change that fact.

Do atheists get their noses out of joint when someone says God Bless you after they sneeze? Sad to say, but I'm sure some do, particularly the ones who go apoplectic about "One Nation Under God" and Easter Egg Hunts.

A great many atheists seem to find a belief in God to be childish, and laugh at those who think that the favors of "an imaginary being" can be courted by a memo jumbo prayer. Suddenly the same practice can strip them of all rights?

I'm for religious freedom, and freedom from religion, but an opening prayer at a town counsel meeting just doesn't cross any serious line that I perceive.

I've disagreed with a number of SC rulings, but that counts for about as much as your disagreement with this one, and to me this one has very little actual impact at all.
 

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