Taconic-prayingsymbol300x357.jpg (JPEG Image, 300 × 357 pixelIn November, Winifred Fallers Sullivan contributed an essay on a case that was being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, The Town of Greece v. Galloway. At town meetings held in Greece, NY, an opening prayer was—and continues to be—common practice. While town officials claim that members of any faith would be welcome to give these opening prayers, the overwhelming majority of these prayers have been led by Christians, and many have drawn on explicitly sectarian references. Two town residents, one atheist and one Jewish, sued on the basis that the prayers “ran afoul of the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion.”

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court handed down their ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway, splitting 5-4 in favor of the town continuing to open its board meetings with prayer. It is interesting to note that the five justices in the majority decision are Catholic, while three of the four in the minority are Jewish. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority; Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the dissent. 

The New York Times provides an overview of the case and the majority and dissenting opinions, and writers at both Slate and The Economist have responded to the ruling.

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