The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 1, 2013

Letter: Courts have played crucial role in preserving religious freedom for Americans

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — In reference to the letter on anti-discrimination  and Christian prayer by Tyler Bowen, at the beginning of every city council meeting: A small town of Greece, N.Y., v. Galloway, will have a hearing by the U.S. Supreme County Nov. 6, on this subject.

In other cases, the Supreme Court made clear although legislative prayer is part of our country’s history, public bodies do not have blanket permission to open meetings with sectarian prayers because doing so would align the government with a particular religion.

Since our nation’s beginning, our federal courts have played a crucial role in preserving the religious freedom of all Americans, which can only be done if the government does not favor religion over nonreligion or one belief over others.

The city council could remedy that by prayers being delivered by randomly chosen clergy from a variety of faiths, with no restrictions placed on the content of innovations.

The founding fathers warned against exactly that, the reason for the First Amendment, George Washington wrote in a letter in 1792 that religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those that spring from other cause.

Judge J. Harvie Wilkerson, Fourth Circuit judge, a President Ronald Reagan appointee, wrote in a 2011 decision, “To plant sectarian prayers as the heart of local government is a prescription for religious discord.”

It is a warning the justices of the Supreme Court should take seriously!

City council meetings are different from sessions in a state legislature or Congress/citizens only visit once or twice in a lifetime and observe from the gallery.

But city council meetings are the only place residents can go to participate in their local government, and may take action on matters that directly impact their lives. No discrimination should be tolerated!

Graham McIntyre