Finally! Let's hope the Supreme Court does the right thing. There is no room for prayer in public meetings. It's amusing that the Religious Right would entertain Wiccan prayers to preserve their right to pray to their bronze-age goat-herder god. I'm sure their cognitive dissonance must be extreme. I almost feel sorry for them. ;-)
A dispute over public prayers at town board meetings will be taken up by the Supreme Court in coming months, another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the public arena.
The justices announced Monday the court will decide whether a New York community may continue what it calls "inclusive" prayers at its town board sessions.
The petition will be argued later this year or early in 2014, with a ruling ready by the spring.
After the Greece, New York, Town Board's policy was challenged because virtually all of those invited to offer prayers were Christians, the board for a time invited a few others, including a Wiccan, to offer invocations.
But when that practice appeared to end, local citizens Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens sued. A federal appeals court found the board's policy to be an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause, which forbids any government "endorsement" of religion.
The town board then asked the Supreme Court to intervene.
Galloway and Stephens say the board of the town outside Rochester almost always invited Christian clergy to open the meetings, usually with sectarian prayers. The plaintiffs said in court papers they were non-Christian and felt "marginalized" by the practice.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Washington, D.C.-based group that is representing the two women, cited records showing that between 1999 and 2010, approximately two-thirds of the invocations contained the words "Jesus Christ," Jesus," Holy Spirit," or "Your Son."
And the lawsuit claims that from 1999 through 2007, every meeting had a Christian-only invocation. Following the complaints from the plaintiffs, four other faiths were invited in 2008, including a Baha'i leader and a Jewish lay person.