Virginia Christian Alliance files brief in public prayer case
The Virginia Christian Alliance (VCA) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Supreme Court in the highly publicized public prayer case of Town of Greece v. Galloway. The Virginia Christian Alliance is asking the Court to reevaluate its current framework for deciding cases involving religious speech or symbols in public settings and to return to a historically correct interpretation of the Establishment Clause to prohibit only government policies that coerce citizens to support or practice religion.
The brief, authored by Rita Dunaway, Vice President of Public Policy for the Virginia Christian Alliance, argues that the Court’s prevailing modes of Establishment Clause analysis, which focus on whether a bystander might perceive a message of government “endorsement” of religion, are at odds with the Clause’s original meaning and result in censorship of religious speech by citizens and government officials. The brief reminds the Supreme Court of America’s rich religious heritage and points out that an intellectually honest application of the Court’s modern Establishment Clause doctrine would result in the invalidation of countless national traditions and practices, including the Pledge of Allegiance, an almost uncountable number of National Monument inscriptions, Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations, Supreme Court opening traditions, the National Day of Prayer, and the national motto, “In God We Trust,” which is inscribed upon many government buildings and all of our nation’s currency.
The case arose out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which held that the Town of Greece, New York, had created an unconstitutional “establishment” of religion by allowing local clergy members to offer invocations at Town meetings on a voluntary, non-discriminatory basis. The Court held that this policy violated the Establishment Clause because, in fact, most of the clergy members who volunteered to offer the invocations represented the Christian faith. Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom are representing the Town in the appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
“Contrary to what is suggested by some of the Supreme Court’s prevailing analyses, the role of the judiciary is not to protect litigants’ feelings, but to protect liberty,” said Donald N. Blake, Chairman and President of Virginia Christian Alliance. “Those who feel offended by references to faith in the public square can certainly vent their policy views at election time, but they should not be given a court-enforced heckler’s veto and allowed to force religion into the private recesses of society.”
VCA’s brief was joined by a number of other organizations, including Virginia Christian Alliance, Concerned Women For America, Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, Fredrick Douglass Foundation of VA, The Valley Family Forum, Fredericksburg Rappahannock Evangelical Alliance, The Black Robe Regiment of VA, Delegate Richard P. Bell, Senator Richard H. Black, Delegate Benjamin L. Cline, Delegate Todd Gilbert, Senator Emmett Hanger, Delegate R. Steven Landes, Delegate Robert G. Marshall and Senator Steve Martin.
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