Statement on U.S. Supreme Court decision on prayer at town board meetings

Published on May 5th, 2014

Today the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the Town Board in Greece, N.Y., to open its meetings with prayer.

Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, issued the following statement following the decision in Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway:

“In its decision in the Town of Greece case, the Supreme Court has correctly interpreted the Constitution and reaffirmed the rightful place of ceremonial prayer in the proceedings of American government. Some in our country may wish it otherwise, but a simple reading of the Declaration of Independence (‘The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America’) confirms that this nation was built on the foundational understanding that our rights are derived from our Creator, whereas government is the instrument made by the people ‘to secure these rights.’ We do not owe our thanks to government for our rights; the Constitution was and is merely a written and interpreted expression of the rights already granted us by God. Our uniquely American public ceremonial prayer is a recognition of these ‘self-evident’ truths, and those who seek to undermine this practice do so, unwittingly perhaps, but systematically and steadily, at the peril of the Republic.”

The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s Bishops in matters of public policy.

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