A needed victory for religious freedoms

By Brad Dacus

President, Pacific Justice Institute

I was greatly encouraged today by the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court upholding public prayer in Town of Greece, NY v. Galloway. This is an important decision that will have a positive impact on our work in a number of ways.

The case concerned invocations offered before the start of city council meetings in a suburb of Rochester, New York. As they have done all over the country, anti-religious activists filed suit, claiming the prayers were unconstitutional because they were predominantly (although not exclusively) Christian, and many were offered in Jesus’ name. This is the same type of battle we have fought on many occasions here in California.

In a 5-4 decision, with the majority opinion authored by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court resoundingly rejected the claims made by these plaintiffs and upheld prayers before council meetings. This decision specifically rejected the notion that feeling offended was the same as being coerced (a claim we’ve heard in many cases that PJI has defended). The Court also disagreed with those who for many years have insisted that only the most generic prayers, without the name of Jesus, are appropriate.

The good news doesn’t stop there! In today’s ruling, the Court sent a clear signal that it was not interested in listening to other atheist complaints about the Pledge of Allegiance, inauguration prayer, or other time-honored traditions. (You may remember that PJI successfully defended Dr. Rick Warren and Dr. Joseph Lowery, Jr. a few years ago when their inauguration prayers were challenged by atheist Michael Newdow).

Friends, this is some of the best news we’ve had in awhile, and it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate. There are many other good takeaways from today’s ruling, and our legal team is closely analyzing each aspect of this decision. Of course, we know that those who are determined to destroy our nation’s religious heritage are plotting their next move. Already, anticipating a loss in this case, they have begun attempting other legal strategies to attack public prayer. We are preparing to meet these challenges head-on, and I hope you will join us in our efforts.

Since today’s decision overrules prior bad precedent in California, we want to make sure that pastors and local elected officials have the most accurate information (which you and I know they won’t get from the mainstream media). Please help us spread the word by making sure that your church and local leaders are connected to PJI and are getting the best legal analysis that promotes and protects our religious freedoms. Feel free to forward this e-mail to any such leaders who would benefit from it. Our attorneys would be happy to discuss in more depth this important victory with any pastor or elected official.

Running the Race …

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