Supreme Court Upholds Town Government Prayers

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Robyn Shepherd, ACLU national, 212-519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Jennifer Carnig, NYCLU, 212-607-3363

Supreme Court Upholds Town Government Prayers

ACLU Opposed Sectarian Prayers in Support Brief

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court of the United States upheld today a New York town’s practice of starting town meetings with official sectarian prayer. The practice was challenged by residents of Greece, N.Y. who objected to hearing government prayers, the vast majority of which were expressly Christian invocations, as a condition of attending public meetings.

“We are disappointed by today’s decision. Official religious favoritism should be off-limits under the Constitution,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “Town-sponsored sectarian prayer violates the basic rule requiring the government to stay neutral on matters of faith.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend of the court brief supporting the residents of Greece.

“The constitutional requirement that church and state must be separated rests, in part, on the understanding that when government supports one religion over others, people who are not members of the favored religion are made to feel like outsiders by their government,” said Arthur Eisenberg, legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

For more information on this case, please visit: www.aclu.org/religion-belief/town-greece-v-galloway  

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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