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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

JCPA: Public Prayer Decision Erodes Bill of Rights

May 05, 2014: JCPA:    Public Prayer Decision Erodes Bill of Rights


Public Prayer Decision Erodes Bill of Rights

Washington, DC - Today’s Supreme Court decision allowing sectarian prayer before public meetings was an erosion of the Bill of Rights and its protections, said the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The case, Town of Greece v. Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, was narrowly decided by a vote of 5-4 in favor of the town’s right to open public meetings with a prayer. The JCPA joined an amicus brief with the American Jewish Committee in opposition to the Town and in support of existing precedents regarding separation of religion and state. 

“A guiding principle in our democracy is that no group or individual feels that the government prefers one religion over another.  The First Amendment protections are intended to ensure just that. Beginning our public meetings with a sectarian prayer can make some feel excluded. It is not the way to achieve a strong, dynamic, and inclusive union,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “We believe strongly in the importance of each us being free to worship and practice our own religion as we choose. That freedom contributes to our success as a diverse nation. But one should not have to participate in another’s religious practice in order to take part in civic activities.” 

“We are very disappointed in this decision which diminishes The Bill of Rights and erodes 60 years of understanding of the Establishment Clause,” said JCPA Chair Susan W. Turnbull. “The Court today opened the gates to reconsidering years of legal precedents and court decisions. We are concerned that this could mark a turn towards more religion in the public arena which could discourage the participation of minority groups.”


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