McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Features

August 1, 2013

N.Y. town prayers at issue as Supreme Court takes up religion for 1st time in 30 years

(Continued)

"People from other faiths did volunteer, which is great," said one of Greece's lawyers, Brett Harvey of the Alliance Defending Freedom in Scottsdale, Ariz. "The town has no problem with any of that."

The case will test the impact of the court's changed composition over the past decade and the ideological shift that has left Justice Anthony Kennedy as the most likely deciding vote. The justices will probably hear arguments in November or December.

The court has taken up religion cases only sparingly since Roberts became chief justice in 2005. In perhaps the biggest ruling, a 5-4 decision in 2010, it revived a federal law designed to protect a Christian cross erected as a war memorial in a national preserve.

"The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm," Kennedy wrote in the court's lead opinion in that case.

Supporters say legislative prayer has been a widespread practice since the country's founding — and not something that was called into question when the First Amendment, adopted in 1791, barred the "establishment of religion" by the government. The vast majority of state legislative bodies open the day with some kind of prayer, as do both houses of Congress.

"It's part of our historical tradition and the fabric of our country," said Vince DiPaola, the founder of the Lakeshore Community Church, an evangelical congregation, who has delivered the prayer at town meetings at least seven times.

Critics say that tradition doesn't mean government bodies can favor one religion over others. Ayesha Khan, who represents the challengers, says at least half the state legislatures take steps to ensure the invocations are nonsectarian.

"It's not unusual for legislative bodies to ask guest prayer-givers to pray in an inclusive fashion, and that's exactly what we're asking for here," said Khan, a lawyer with Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
Seasonal Content
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Two women barely avoid being hit by train Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.