Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Congressman Randy Forbes: Court’s Decision in Galloway a victory for prayer

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld our Nation's longstanding tradition of legislative prayer case of Town of Greece v. Galloway.  The town of Greece, New York, has a policy allowing anyone who wishes to offer a prayer before their meetings to request to do so. Despite the town's highly inclusive prayer policy, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit departed from Supreme Court precedent and declared the prayer practice unconstitutional. The Court has overturned the decision of the Second Circuit.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes issued the following statement:

The Court's decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway is a victory for the practice of legislative prayer.  The Court not only reinforced in detail the deep historical significance of legislative prayer in our Nation, but also affirmed how a practice of legislative prayer that is open to all religious creeds acknowledges and celebrates our diversity.  One need not agree with every theological implication of a proffered prayer to unite behind the symbolic importance of a ceremonial prayer.  Today's decision affirms our tradition of prayer for generations to come."

In an opinion authored by Justice Kennedy, the Court highlighted our Nation's long tradition of legislative prayer, stating, "That the First Congress provided for the appointment of chaplains only days after approving language for the First Amendment demonstrates that the Framers considered legislative prayer a benign acknowledgment of religion's role in society. . . . As a practice that has long endured, legislative prayer has become part of our heritage and tradition, part of our expressive idiom, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance, inaugural prayer, or the recitation of "God save the United States and this honorable Court" at the opening of this Court's sessions."

The Court's decision also addresses the way in which prayer unites us as a people: "These ceremonial prayers strive for the idea that people of many faiths may be united in a community of tolerance and devotion. Even those who disagree as to religious doctrine may find common ground in the desire to show respect for the divine in all aspects of their lives and being. Our tradition assumes that adult citizens, firm in their own beliefs, can tolerate and perhaps appreciate a ceremonial prayer delivered by a person of a different faith."

Congressman Forbes, along with Congressman Steve Scalise, led eighty-five Members of Congress in an amicus curiae brief in support of the town's legislative prayer practice. Congressman Forbes is the Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, a bipartisan group of 100 Members of Congress who are committed to defending America's heritage of religious freedom.