Supreme Court Rules Prayer in Government Meetings OK


By Ashley Thompson

The U.S. Supreme Court says prayer before public meetings is constitutional, after two women sued a town in New York saying prayer infringed on their rights.

With a 5 to 4 vote, Supreme Court Justices say prayer at government meetings is okay. Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange says he applauds the ruling.

"It's been in our fabric, in our DNA to be able to do that," he says. "We were founded on Christian and religious values."

And some Montgomery residents say those religious values have been threatened.

"This is a nation that was a Christian nation," says Melvin Peck. "We was brought up praying and a few people came in and they stopped us from praying."

But not everyone is happy with the Supreme Court's decision. Brian Webican is one of the organizers for the Montgomery area FreeThought Association, an atheist group that promotes the separation of church and state.

"When it comes to city council to do city council business, and asked to sit there with a Christian prayer, I'm not necessarily going to feel that my needs are going to be met and that I'm going to be heard fairly."

Webican says he doesn't believe everyone should be subject to Christian prayers.

"The main issue is that there are a lot of people who are not Christian and you can't necessarily assume that everybody in the room is a Christian."

But Mayor Strange says pastors from all religions have been invited to give the invocation at city council.

"We have the Ministerial Association here to rotate people coming, whether it be Catholic, or whether it be Jewish or whether it be Christian, they come ask for blessings."

And Montgomery resident Delores Jenkins says she doesn't think you can please everyone.

"Well if that's something that you don't want to associate yourself with, don't. But those who wish to have prayer and wish to have The Lord in their life, they should be able to do that."

Wibecan with the FreeThought Association tells us there are plans for the group to become more active and be more outspoken.

The Supreme Court's decision also allows for sectarian invocations, meaning the prayers at government meetings can be given by just members of one faith.