Religion

Obama Administration Takes Surprising Stance on New York Court Prayer Case

| by Sarah Siskind
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The Obama administration has filed a surprising amicus curiae brief defending the small town of Greece, New York and arguing their Court prayer is entirely constitutional.

As early as 1997, the Court for the small town of Greece, New York has opened its proceedings with a prayer administered by a Christian clergyman, usually at the behest of the town.

"We celebrate your son, Jesus," invokes a pastor from Lakeshore Community Church in December, 2009. Another pastor recites, "We ask all this through Christ, our Lord," closing the prayer with "Amen."

In 2008, however, two town residents sued the court arguing that the prayers were in direct violation of the first amendment’s prohibition of a state religion. The residents’ prosecution attorneys, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in April.

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

"The Town's litigating position -- that it would accept volunteers of any faith, whether clergy or otherwise -- was undercut by the Town's failure ever to announce, much less formally enact, an all-comers policy," reads the brief.

However, earlier this month, much to the surprise of  Supreme Court veterans and scholars, the Justice Department filed an amicus curiae brief that defending Greece’s Constitution right to opening prayers. Central to this defense, interestingly, is the argument that references such as “the Holy Spirit,” and “King of Kings,” are not exclusively Christian. The argument does not address the exclusively Christian administrators of the opening prayers.

Such a defense came as a surprise to observers because the Obama administration has frequently come under fire for its stance on Healthcare from faith-based organization. With the passage of Obamacare, the administration has required church groups that morally object to provide contraception.

"In one case, you've got the government (effectively) saying a prayer in front of a legislative assembly is constitutional and fine, which I agree with," says chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice. "The same Department of Justice is arguing you can compel a business owner to violate their religious conscience when it comes to the issue of abortion. “ Jay Sekulow continues, “Those are not very consistent positions."

Sources: Fox News