Good News: Court Upholds Ban on Atheist ‘Prayers’ at State Assembly Meetings

A blank billboard find in a suburban area with plenty of copy space. Includes the clipping path.

[Christian News Network] The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that would have allowed atheists to present invocations before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

“A group of non-theists has challenged the theists-only policy under the Establishment, Free Exercise, Free Speech, and Equal Protection Clauses of our Constitution. As to the Establishment Clause, we uphold the policy because only theistic prayer can satisfy the historical purpose of appealing for divine guidance in lawmaking, the basis for the Supreme Court taking as a given that prayer presumes a higher power,” wrote Judge Thomas Abro, nominated to the bench by then-President Bill Clinton.

“For the Free Exercise, Free Speech, and Equal Protection Clauses, we hold that legislative prayer is government speech
not open to attack via those channels.”

As previously reported, since its initial formation in 1682, the Pennsylvania House has invited a chaplain to offer a prayer at the opening of each meeting. The House’s general operating rules require that those delivering the invocation be “a member of a regularly established church or religious organization or shall be a member of the House of Representatives.”

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[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Heather Clark and first published at Christian News Network]