Yesterday, it was announced that the Supreme Court upheld the town of Greece, New York's right to open their town council meetings with a prayer. Although the decision was narrow, with five Justice's upholding the right to pray, against four dissenting Justices, I will gladly take the victory. But the dividing line was quite obvious -- the Liberal Justices versus the Conservative/Moderate Justices -- and we should not be so confident as to think that this battle against Prayer is over.
As reported by the Associated Press, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the prayers are ceremonial and in keeping with the nation's traditions. "The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers," Kennedy said.
However, Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court's four liberal Justices, said, "I respectfully dissent from the Court's opinion because I think the Town of Greece's prayer practices violate that norm of religious equality -- the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian."
So, let me pose a question to you … it is a fact that the town of Greece, NY has a population of just under 100,000. Additionally, it is a fact, that the population is primarily Christian. If you are curious like me, you can Google the yellow pages website for churches in the town of Greece. I stopped counting at page 14, and over 400 religious institutions. I counted one Islamic church, eight individuals (who I can only assume offer some sort of non-traditional worship services); the rest all fell under the category of "Christian". So does it not seem logical that the town of Greece would wish to dedicate the service of their town officials by offering a solemn request for help, or an expression of thanks … and that this would be addressed to the Christian God?
By the term religious "equality", I am left wondering if Justice Kagan prefers that all prayer be discontinued, or just prayer to the Christian God? It appears to me, that if the town council had wished to pray to Allah or some Wiccan deity, she would not have disagreed. On that point, we may take some encouragement at these words from Justice Kennedy: "Government may not mandate a civic religion that stifles any but the most generic reference to the sacred, any more than it may prescribe a religious orthodoxy." So for now, as long as town councils do not attempt to convert anyone to Christianity, or demean another faith, we do not have to censor the use of "God" or prayer in opening ceremonies or formalities.
But, lest we let down our guard, we must remember that it is the express purpose of the godless to limit our expression of faith and worship to our most Holy God; especially in public forums. The more they can limit the influence of Christianity, the more they can control us. A populace who believes in the inherent rights given to us by a God who promotes individual responsibility and accountability, is a nation that will never be suppressed. So take advantage of the liberties still left to us …. AND PRAY!
Luke 18:1 "And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart."