News out of Alaska reports that officials on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly are thinking of ending their practice of prayer prior to their meetings. Learn more about legislative prayers at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
Welcome to the First Liberty Briefing. I’m Jeremy Dys.
News out of Alaska reports that officials on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly are thinking of ending their practice of prayer prior to their meetings.
Assembly member Shaun Tacke said the move to end pre-meeting prayer is to be inclusive. Since some in the community believe in prayer before meetings and others don’t, he says, “having a strict policy of separation of church and state . . . excludes no one and includes everyone.”
I’m not sure that’s the right logic. By excluding legislative prayer, the assembly is excluding those who believe in such prayers, while favoring those who insist upon strict secularity in the public square. To quote Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in Greece v. Galloway, “Government may not mandate a civic religion that stifles any but the most generic reference to the sacred any more than it may prescribe a religious orthodoxy.”
The Supreme Court of the United States has twice explained, legislative prayers have a long history and tradition in our country, a tradition meant to lend gravity to the proceedings, while acknowledging the role religion plays in the life of our nation.
Legislative bodies like this assembly may choose to end their practice of legislative prayer, but they should understand that nothing in the history of our country or the doctrine of our Constitution compels them to do so.
To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org