Supreme Court

Reform Movement Condemns Supreme Court Legislative Prayer Ruling



In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

We are deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway, upholding sectarian prayer before a legislative session. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that requiring invocations be nonsectarian would call on the legislatures sponsoring these prayers and the courts to intervene and “act as supervisors and censors of religious speech.” Yet, Justice Kennedy did suggest there were limits to such prayers, among them: denigrating non-believers or religious minorities, threatening damnation, or preaching conversion — leaving courts in exactly the same role as line-drawers.  The record has shown that the overwhelming majority of prayers offered were Christian. That is why we were pleased to join an amicus brief to the Court, opposing the constitutionality of the town of Greece’s practices, along with a diverse array of faith and religiously-affiliated groups.

An individual’s religious belief – or non-belief – ought not be a prerequisite to accessing the political process. The Greece v. Galloway decision undermines the fundamental American principle of equal participation in government, regardless of the faith of the individual.

For more information on the RAC’s views on the separation of church and state and religion in the public sphere, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Sarah Greenberg or visit our Religious Liberties web portal.

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6 Responses to “Reform Movement Condemns Supreme Court Legislative Prayer Ruling”

  1. Given the URJ’s “traditional position of vigorous opposition to the mingling of church and state”, please comment on the following:

    1. Does the URJ support the parsonage exclusion in the tax code? Explain.

    2. If the answer to #1 is yes, does not that contradict the progressive belief that the government knows how to better allocate resources than the individual? Explain.

    3. Does the URJ support tax exempt status for religious organizations? Why should dues and other donations to religious organizations be tax exempt? Explain.

    4. If the URJ supports the “high and impregnable” wall of separation between church and state, should clergy be allowed to speak on political issues within their religious institution? If yes, doesn’t this convert the “high and impregnable” wall into a semi-permeable membrane? Explain.

    5. The HHS’ recent definition of an exempt religious organization includes: “The organization serves primarily persons who share the religious tenants of the organization.” How does this square with vision of Tikkun Olam?

  2. In disbelief, I can only say, vote them out!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Proclaim Liberty Throughout The Land | M'kor Nefesh - A Source for Soulfulness - May 9, 2014

    […] Praying is universal; people of all faith traditions pray, in their own ways and words. Our country embraced the notion that liberty is universal, even as it took time and conflict to resolve and embody. Freedom of prayer, in prayer is exactly about the universality of prayer. The Founders of our country were fled their old lives in order to find freedom in prayer.  And our Jewish tradition reminds us over and over again that we are to remember what it was like to be enslaved, exactly so that we will not perpetrate that on anyone else.  How ironic that this week, with these words from Torah in our hearts, the United States Supreme Court upheld the practice of public prayer before local-government meetings, rejecting arguments that overwhelmingly Christian invocations violate the constitutional bar on the establishment of an official religion. The Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism condemned the ruling: http://blogs.rj.org/rac/2014/05/05/reform-movement-condemns-supreme-court-legislative-prayer-ruling/ […]

  2. Understanding the Greece v. Galloway Decision | Women of Reform Judaism - May 8, 2014

    […] In response to the Court’s decision, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel of the RAC, issued … decrying what this decision means for religious freedom in this country and noting Justice Kennedy’s opinion which suggested that requiring invocations be nonsectarian would call on the legislatures sponsoring these prayers and the courts to intervene and “act as supervisors and censors of religious speech.”  Rabbi Saperstein also remarked that “An individual’s religious belief – or non-belief – ought not be a prerequisite to accessing the political process. The Greece v. Galloway decision undermines the fundamental American principle of equal participation in government, regardless of the faith of the individual.” […]

  3. Understanding the Greece v. Galloway Decision | Fresh Updates from RAC - May 8, 2014

    […] response to the Court’s decision, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel of the RAC, issued … decrying what this decision means for religious freedom in this country and noting Justice […]

  4. Why The Supreme Court's Recent Decision is a Challenge, Not a Problem | RavBlog - May 7, 2014

    […] On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a split decision to keep intact its perceived understanding of permitting sectarian prayer in civic meetings. Most of the American Jewish world is concerned. For instance, Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued this statement: […]

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