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Prayer Wins at the Supreme Court!

This morning in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway—in a long awaited and highly anticipated 5-4 decision—the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed America’s centuries-old tradition of allowing prayers to open legislative meetings, even if Christians offer those prayers in Jesus’ name. As legal counsel for various county commissions and city councils that have been sued for continuing to allow Christians to pray in Jesus’ name, the National Center for Life and Liberty is relieved to see the Supreme Court uphold these vital constitutional rights. We are now looking forward to seeing today’s decision direct the outcome to all of the pending prayer cases across America. Today's decision will allow community leaders to continue to pray in the name of Jesus! Last summer, the NCLL filed an amicus brief in the Galloway case on behalf of these local legislative bodies.

David C. Gibbs III, founder and Senior litigation counsel for NCLL, said: “We are very pleased that the Supreme Court has upheld Christians' right to pray in Jesus’ name—even in public legislative meetings.”  Opponents to prayer in Jesus’ name had argued that they found these prayers offensive and that courts should determine what religious words are permissible in prayers.  Attorney Gibbs stated, “We applaud the Justices for not allowing our nation’s courts to censor the content of prayers and to continue to allow religious liberty in America for everyone.”

Background to the Town of Greece Case

The Town of Greece, in New York, had allowed community members representing various faith groups to offer the opening prayer before its town council meetings, but two citizens challenged the practice, stating that they were offended when prayers were offered in Jesus’ name and that they believed allowing these sectarian prayers violated the Establishment Clause (the “separation of church and state”).  The federal trial court approved the city’s practice, even though the community and the prayers were primarily Christian. On appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision and held the prayer practice unconstitutional. The City of Greece then appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, the Supreme Court reversed the Second Circuit's decision and held that such legislative prayers—when they reflect the private faith of the person praying and do not proselytize or denigrate other religions—are constitutional.