ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A local constitutional scholar is praising the Supreme Court’s decision that prayers before public meetings are legal.
In a 5 to 4 decision, justices say prayers that open town council meetings don’t violate the Constitution, even if they stress Christianity.
“It’s only a constitutional problem if citizens are actively coerced to join in with the prayer or in some way to violate their own conscious,” says Mizzou Law Professor Josh Hawley.
The decision was based on a case out of Greece, NY, which has a similar policy now practiced in Franklin County, Mo. Opening prayers for commission meetings are sought from all faith groups, offering volunteers the chance to lead the invocation per their beliefs.
“What we have is someone offering a prayer specific to their faith tradition, but that is meant for asking for God’s blessing on the whole community and for the good of everyone there present,” says Hawley. “So, these prayers are meant to be a moment of unity, not disunity.”
Hawley says that part of this unity is the ability to recognize other members in the community that have other beliefs, but are together with them seeking the common good.
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