Supreme Court Upholds Town Council’s Opening Prayers as Ceremonial Only


When George Washington was elected President of the United States, he marched everyone to a local church to worship and praise God. He offered up a prayer to God, thanking Him for his sovereign grace and mercy in the formation of the new nation. Christianity, worship of God and prayer has played a vital place in America’s history. The Supreme Court and Congress began each session with prayer. Starting with George Washington, every President has taken the oath of office with his hand upon a Bible, except for Teddy Roosevelt, John Quincy Adams and Lyndon B. Johnson.

In 1892, the US Supreme Court ruled that America is a Christian nation in case of Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States. In that decision, Justice David Josiah Brewer wrote:

“No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation. . . .There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation.  These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people. . . . These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”

Around 1900, liberal progressives set forth a plan to change America from a Christian nation into a liberal progressive socialist nation. They surmised that it would take at least 100 years to change the face of America by undermining the institution of the family and traditional marriage; American patriotism and Christianity.

A huge step to that goal was launched in 1960 when an atheist mom in Baltimore filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore public schools claiming that it was unconstitutional for her son to be forced to read the Bible at school. In 1963, her lawsuit had been with another one to form Abington School District v. Schempp. The lawsuit went to the Supreme Court who agreed with the plaintiffs, one of whom was Madalyn Murray O’Hair, and reading the Bible in public schools was halted.

By the end of the 1960s, additional lawsuits resulted in the removal of prayer and any other vestige of Christianity from the public classroom. Atheists have been crawling out from their darkness on a regular basis to remove any trace of Jesus, God, the Bible and Christianity from public life. They’ve forced the removal of the Ten Commandments from many a public building and property.

Now, they are targeting city council meetings that open their meetings with prayer. One lawsuit, Town of Greece, New York V. Galloway, et al. intended to end that practice also made it to the US Supreme Court. On Monday, the high court issued their 5-4 ruling in favor of the city council.

But before you dance and proclaim it a victory for religion, take a closer look as to why the court ruled as they did. Their ruling was not a protection of religion, but a declaration that the opening prayers are nothing more than ceremonial. Writing for the majority opinion of the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:

“Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government to alter or define and that willing participation in civic affairs can be consistent with a brief acknowledgment of their belief in a higher power, always with due respect for those who adhere to other beliefs. The prayer in this case has a permissible ceremonial purpose. It is not an unconstitutional establishment of religion.”

In other words, prayers used to open any form of governmental meeting is just a ceremonial act and means nothing. That also means that in the eyes of the court, the prayer spoken by the pastor, rabbi or other religious leader is meaningless and does nothing to bless the proceedings of the court. It would be no different than if someone recited Humpty Dumpty or Poe’s The Raven at the opening of the government meeting.

Even though the Supreme Court ruled America to be a Christian nation in 1892, for the past fifty years, they have ruled the exact opposite and Monday’s ruling only helps to enforce that fact that we are no longer a Christian nation.

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