The Second Circuit ruled this past week that Greece, through its opening prayers at board meetings, is associating itself with Christianity.
A little bit of history here: In 1999, Greece Town Supervisor John Auberger replaced a moment of silence at board meetings with a prayer.
He called the prayer-giver “Chaplain of the month.”
For eight straight years only Christian leaders were invited to give this prayer.
This is not to say other religions weren’t welcome, it’s just that leaders of other religions were not asked to participate.
During a vast majority of the prayers, the Christian leader would invoke the name of Jesus Christ or Your Son or the Holy Spirit making the prayer overtly Christian in nature.
After a complaint in 2007, the town brought in a rabbi and even a Wiccan priestess to give the prayer, but because it was town policy to invite clergy almost exclusively from within Greece, most prayers continued to be given by Christians.
Two Greece residents filed a federal lawsuit.
They lost their case at the district level, but the Second Circuit reversed that decision and declared the town’s policy unconstitutional.
What’s interesting is the court appears to condone – though it may frown upon – each aspect of the town’s policy, but it took issue with the policy in its totality.