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Supreme Court rules prayers in meetings constitutional
Monday, May 5, 2014 6:08 PM EDT
WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL -
In a five to four vote, the US Supreme Court says prayers do not violate the constitution, even if they routinely emphasize Christianity.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said the prayers are ceremonial and in keeping with the Nation's traditions.
But in a dissent, the court's four liberal justices wrote that the prayers violate the norm of religious equality.
In Harrisburg, Illinois every city meeting begins with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer.
Minister at the First Christian Church in Harrisburg Biff Moore often prays at the start of a community meeting.
He says our forefathers set the precedence.
"Actually as far back as the first continental congress," said Moore.
He says leaders in any community need divine guidance.
But long-time Mayor of Marion, Bob Butler, says leaders should be voted in and made decisions based on their character, with or without a prayer.
"If they have a moral compass, if they know what they're about, I don't really believe that it is necessary," said Butler.
He says it has never been done in the Marion chamber and he says under his leadership, it will not be.
"Sometimes I get the feeling that prayer before a city council meeting is for show more than anything else," said Butler.
Moore says prayer binds the community and keeps the meetings a little more tame.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the town's prayers are consistent with a 1983 ruling allowing prayers before legislative sessions, citing their historical nature.
Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky was one of 32 senators who filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting prayers in meetings.
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