Thursday, May 8, 2014

Americans now get to decide which religions we want to protect

When the Supreme Court handed down its decision Monday in Town of Greece v. Galloway, many commentators suggested that it was an overreaction to believe that it would impact religious freedom in America. If anything, they argue, we are all a little bit freer this morning, as the court has moved away from the stifling demand that religious invocations before a town council meeting be limited to “nonsectarian” references, such as the “Almighty” or “addressed only to a generic God.” In a significant shift from earlier case law, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that local government “cannot require chaplains to redact the religious content from their message to make it acceptable for the public sphere.” From now on, religious leaders can offer full-throated, unapologetic prayers to the god of their choosing in public meetings. And in language consistent with one of the most speech-protective courts in modern history, Kennedy reminds religious objectors that citizens who “feel excluded or disrespected” by such religious invocations should simply ignore them. “Adults often encounter speech they find disagreeable,” he wrote.

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