2nd Circuit rules town should encourage more groups to pray at meetings

Michael Peabody, Religious Liberty TV

On May 17, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Galloway v. Town of Greece, 0-3635-cv) ruled that the town of Greece,  New York violated the U.S. Constitution by opening meetings with prayers that favored Christianity over other religions.

Linda Galloway and Linda Stephens filed suit in 2008 claiming that the town’s prayer practice affiliated the town with the single creed of Christianity in violation of the Establishment Clause. The district court dismissed granted summary judgment against Galloway and Stephens. The 2nd Circuit overturned the summary judgment and remanded the case to the lower courts.

In this ruling, the Second Circuit did not preclude prayer, but noted that even though prayers may be offered with the best of intentions, those giving them may attempt to “convey their views of religious truth, and thereby run the risk of making others feel like outsiders.”

The court set what appears to be a new standard for determining whether a prayer, or pattern of prayers, is appropriate.