Liberty Counsel has been actively engaged in protecting the rights of Americans to pray in public forums. Monday, the fruits of our labor paid off in a big way.
Today, to the consternation of anti-Christian segregationists, historical revisionists and Church-state separatists, prayer in the public square remains protected in the United States of America thanks to patriots like you and five Supreme Court Justices.
In the ruling on Town of Greece v. Galloway, the High Court decided that opening a town meeting in prayer does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment in a 5-4 decision. Liberty Counsel filed an extensive amicus brief in this case.
Using the Marsh v. Chambers decision, the Supreme Court gave an unequivocal recognition that even sectarian prayers before a legislative session are constitutional. Finally, the Supreme Court went back to a test that acknowledges a practice that was accepted by the Founders who wrote the First Amendment.
Liberty Counsel’s brief to the Court pointed out…
“The Court’s continuing reliance upon the Lemon test has meant that the Establishment Clause, designed to respect religious traditions without taking sides, has morphed into a weapon aimed at eliminating all vestiges of public religious expression.”
The High Court agreed with our brief by ruling:
“Any test the Court adopts must acknowledge a practice that was accepted by the Framers and has withstood the critical scrutiny of time and political change. … Any test that would sweep away what has so long been settled would create new controversy and begin anew the very divisions along religious lines that the Establishment Clause seeks to prevent.”
This opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, refutes all of the nonsense that the atheist groups have been spewing for years. The majority opinion even points out the absurdity of trying to force a minister to pray to a “neutral deity” inoffensive to all present.
“Any insistence on nonsectarian or ecumenical prayer as a single, fixed standard is not consistent with the tradition of legislative prayer outlined in the Court’s cases,” wrote 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.
“Respondents argue, in effect, that legislative prayer may be addressed only to a generic God. The law and the Court could not draw this line for each specific prayer or seek to require ministers to set aside their nuanced and deeply personal beliefs for vague and artificial ones.
“The First Amendment is not a majority rule, and government may not seek to define permissible categories of religious speech. Once it invites prayer into the public sphere, government must permit a prayer giver to address his or her own God or gods as conscience dictates, unfettered by what an administrator or judge considers to be nonsectarian.”
Justice Kennedy’s opinion concludes:
“The town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition and does not coerce participation by nonadherents.”
We live in the land of liberty because America was founded upon prayer. Prayer signaled the turning point in the history of America.
Prayer was essential to Washington, Franklin, Lincoln, and most other great American leaders. And it can help restore our nation today.
George Washington knew the value of prayer:
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
It would be extremely dangerous for our nation’s courts to have ruled to remove prayer from public forums.
Together we must preserve our unalienable right to get down on our knees to pray – and we must never fail to rise up to fight when that freedom is threatened.
Students do not lose their right to pray at the schoolhouse door.
Liberty Counsel has long been on the forefront of defending religious liberty in the public schools. In a precedent-setting case against the ACLU that went all the way to the Supreme Court, Adler v. Duval County School Board, Liberty Counsel won the right of students to pray or give religious messages at graduation. The case established the legal principle that public schools are free to adopt a policy that permits students or other speakers to present secular or religious messages, including prayer, at commencement ceremonies.
Students do not lose their constitutional right to free speech when they step to the podium at graduation. To allow a variety of viewpoints except religious viewpoints at graduation is religious hostility and unconstitutional. While schools should not force people to pray, neither should they prohibit them from praying.
The key to expressing any religious viewpoint in public school, including graduation prayer, is that the school should remain neutral – neither commanding nor prohibiting it.
As I’ve written before, the situation in our public schools has devolved to the point that it is difficult to believe what is taking place.
Many public schools have become breeding grounds for religious intolerance; cesspools of leftist indoctrination; cauldrons of ideas and teachings that poison the minds of our children and young adults; vehicles for transforming young people’s cultural and moral standards; and engines designed to turn students away from the ethics being taught in a majority of American homes.
But here is the liberating truth: Americans’ rights are not left at the schoolhouse door.
(In these remaining weeks of the 2013-14 school year, Liberty Counsel’s legal team will be inundated with calls for help over this very issue.
We take action on every request that we possibly can. Please help us ensure that students all across the nation know their rights by helping us build our litigation war chest. Go here to help.)
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.