EDITORIAL/Supreme Court gets prayer right
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 1:00 PM
In a ruling that says prayer before public town meetings is acceptable, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan opined in the dissent that the Constitution presupposes that "our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian."
The Hindu gods - while Hindus are free to worship here - are not the one and only true God of the Bible, the God inscribed on the east peak of the Washington Monument facing the Capitol in the Latin phrase "Laus Deo," or Praise be to God, nor the Creator referenced in the Declaration of Independence or elsewhere in founding documents and our national monuments.
Further misguided, liberal newspapers like the Los Angeles Times would have the government dictate the kinds of prayers that can be offered in public meetings, completely contrary to the Constitution and harkening back to a day when King James I declared himself head of the Church.
The ruling, in a suit brought in New York, said a town council did not violate the constitutional prohibition against government establishment of religion, with the justices citing history and tradition.
"Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.
The ruling makes way for government to accommodate religion in civic life. "Absent a pattern of prayers that over time denigrate, proselytize, or betray an impermissible government purpose, a challenge based solely on the content of a particular prayer will not likely establish a constitutional violation," Kennedy wrote.
The ruling is a victory for religious liberty, but disconcerting is the slim majority. Elections have consequences.