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U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS takes government prayer case

Posted May 20, 2013 1:10 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a First Amendment case involving town board meetings in Greece, N.Y., that include prayer.

The Supreme Court granted the cert petition (PDF) on Monday, SCOTUSblog reports. It’s reportedly the first time in three decades that the court has taken a case involving the constitutionality of prayer at the opening of a government meeting.

According to the New York Times, since 1999 the Greece town board has started public meetings with prayer. A “chaplain of the month” recites the prayer, and the town maintains that people from all faiths, and atheists, are invited to say an opening prayer.

Previously, a 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that a majority of the prayers offered were Christian, and included references to “Jesus Christ,” “Jesus,” “Your Son” or the “Holy Spirit.” The opinion holds that the practice is an endorsement of a particular religion’s viewpoint.

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