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Americans United fought to keep exclusive prayers – ones that evoke particular religions – out of your town meetings, and the Supreme Court told us “NO.” ---  Now Religious Right zealots are hijacking the Town of Greece v. Galloway decision, claiming they have a green light to promote the majority’s prayers in local government meetings across the nation.

Now it’s AU’s turn to say “NO!”

The Greece ruling was a bad decision, but the Court did make it clear that the First Amendment imposes limits on local governments that open their meetings with ceremonial prayers.  Towns cannot discriminate on the basis of religion; town leaders cannot lead others in prayers or integrate worship into the legislative process; and invocations cannot proselytize or denigrate other belief systems.

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Fighting For Religious Freedom In Arizona With An Invocation

Yesterday, Arizona state Rep. Athena Salman stood before her colleagues and offered an invocation. At first, it appeared to be just like any other day in the statehouse, where the House always opens its session with a prayer. But then Rep. Mark Finchem stood up, alleged that the prayer violated House rules and asked to give a substitute prayer. Finchem’s objection: Salman is an atheist and her prayer did not speak to what he understood to be a higher power.

Entire Federal Appeals Court To Rehear Case Of Christian Prayers At Mich. County Meetings

A federal appeals court in February ruled that a Michigan county’s policy of opening its meetings with exclusively Christian prayers was unconstitutional, a decision that will be reheard by the full appeals court.

A three-member panel of judges from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 15 ruled 2-1 in favor of Peter Bormuth, a Druid who opposed the prayer policy of Jackson County commissioners. Board members  open­ed their meetings by personally delivering exclusively Christian prayers.

Americans United Hails Federal Appeals Court’s Ruling In Mich. Government Prayer Case

Court Notes That Resident Who Brought Case Was Ridiculed By Jackson County Officials

A federal appeals court today ruled that county commissioners in Jackson County, Mich., may not open their meetings by personally delivering prayers that are exclusively Christian in nature.

The case, Bormuth v. County of Jackson, was brought by a local resident who is a Druid and who opposed the prayer policy. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in Peter Bormuth’s favor.

Americans United says the court made the right call.

Full Appeals Court Will Reconsider N.C. Prayer Case

A federal appeals court announced Nov. 1 that it will reconsider a ruling that allowed the Rowan County, N.C., Board of Commissioners to open its meetings with public prayers, most of which were Christian in nature.

Pa. House Of Representatives Can’t Discriminate Against Non-Theists, Americans United And American Atheists Say In Lawsuit

Legislative Body’s Exclusionary Invocation Policy Is Unconstitutional, Church-State Watchdogs Assert

A Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ policy barring people who do not believe in God from offering pre-meeting invocations is discriminatory, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.

In a federal lawsuit filed today, Americans United and American Atheists explain that several non-theists who requested to deliver opening invocations before the House were deemed ineligible on the grounds that they are “non-adherents or nonbelievers.”

Ariz. Town Grapples With Prayer Policy After Complaints

Officials in an Arizona town have decided to change the community’s invocation policy after Americans United raised the possibility of a lawsuit.

Members of the Chino Valley Town Council had been in the habit of reciting mostly Christian prayers out loud before meetings. The new policy, approved unanimously, calls for them to pray together before meetings out of public view after some members of the community complained.

Phoenix Officials Return Prayer To Agenda After Community Complaints

The Phoenix City Council has decided to once again begin its meetings with official prayers after a brief flirtation with an opening moment of silence lead to community backlash.

The city council voted 6-2 March 23 to bring back spoken prayers to its meetings. The invocations may only be made by chaplains for the local police and fire departments.

N.C. County Roiled By Flap Over Official Prayer Policy

The Cleveland County, N.C., Board of Education voted recently to end its practice of opening meetings with a moment of silence in favor of allowing official invocations.

Last year, the board voted 8-2 to continue its previous policy of beginning meetings with a moment of silence. But some local agitators were upset by that decision and called for more vocal forms of religion to be injected into the meetings.

School Board In Fla. Rejects Sectarian Invocations

The Collier County, Fla., School Board has decided against opening its meetings with an invocation. Some local residents had called for the invocations as an alternative to the board’s current practice of opening its meetings with a moment of silence.

Ian Smith, a staff attorney for Americans United, sent the school board a letter informing them that prayer at school board meetings violates the First Amendment.