Sutherland applauds Supreme Court decision on town-meeting prayer

800px-United_states_supreme_court_buildingSutherland Institute believes the United States Supreme Court made the correct decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway. In ruling that government should not become “supervisors and censors of religious speech” when it comes to prayer offered at the start of a legislative meeting, the court both rightly affirmed past Supreme Court precedent and bolstered protections for religious freedom and freedom of speech.

The court wisely rejected the feigned tolerance so prevalent in politics today – claiming “tolerance” on the one hand while striving to silence dissenting views on the other. Instead, the court stated that such prayers represent “the idea that people of many faiths may be united in a community of tolerance.”

In doing so the court embraced an authentically tolerant perspective: one in which members of society seek for ways to maintain civil and healthy relationships despite publicly expressing and maintaining fundamentally opposed views, and while defending each other’s right to hold and express those views.

The court also recognized the reality that ceremonial prayer and the laws that allow them were not established to “exclude or coerce nonbelievers.” They are natural community expressions of faith that provide “civic recognition” to the benefits of religion in society by “acknowledge[ing] religious leaders and the institutions they represent.”

We hope this ruling will encourage Utahns and their elected officials to genuinely tolerate opposing political and philosophical views and engage them in candid debate and dialogue, rather than seek to marginalize, delegitimize and silence them.

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