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October 26th, 2018
Is it Constitutional to Open a Town Meeting with a Prayer?
Local governments should not open town meetings with prayer. The First Amendment of the
United States constitution guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly and
the right to petition. Moreover, it forbids Congress from promoting one religion over the others
and restricting an individual’s religious practices. Citizens from countries all around the world
come to the United States to freely express their religious preferences. Citizens go to town
meetings to seek aid from their elected representatives. They all gather together as Americans,
regardless of their religious preferences.
The town of Greece in NY has invited clergy members to open town meeting with a prayer. For a
long time, most of the people who attended the meetings were Christian, and for many years, the
clergy just invoked Christian prayers. It is not constitutional because for several reasons, yet in
first place, it is not aligned with the Establishment Clause. The clause holds that “one religious
nomination cannot be officially preferred over another.” In this case, the Christian religion is
being preferred over any other, violating the fundamental principle of the First Amendment.
Moreover, by doing so, they are excluding any practices form different religions. As mentioned,
citizens attend town meeting to discuss general matters, the religious preferences shouldn’t be
part of these meetings, considering that some feel excluded.
In Marsh v. Chambers 463 U.S. 783 (1983), the court upheld the tradition of the Nebraska’s
legislature of beginning each session with a chaplain’s prayer. Furthermore, the court established