Supreme Court Decision on Prayer is a Farce


Many Christians and Christian groups and even churches and church leaders are celebrating the recent Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Town Board of Greece, New York v. Galloway.

It seems to be the conventional wisdom among these folks that the Supreme Court did a "good thing" in holding that the Town Board of Greece (and by implication, other legislative bodies) may pray before the commencement of their public functions.

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Given the totality of the circumstances, however, I believe that this conventional wisdom is anything but wise. In fact, I believe it to be the essence of foolishness.

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Let me explain why.

The Establishment Clause, which is the Constitutional provision at the heart of this case, is comprised of only ten words. Here is what it says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,…"

So, the legal question before the court was whether this clause had been violated. In other words, did the offering of prayer by the Town Board of Greece equate to Congress making a law, the effect of which is to establish an official United States religion?

Well, the answer seems to clearly be "no" for at least two very simple reasons:

  1. The Town Board of Greece, New York, is not the "Congress"; and,
  2. A prayer offered at the Town Board meeting is not a "law." It is simply a prayer.

As I say, if you just read the Establishment Clause and consider the facts of the case, the answer is quite simple. In fact, there really is no case. The prayer at the Town Board meeting in Greece is not a violation of the First Amendment.

In order to find that a prayer in New York (or anywhere else) is a violation of the Establishment Clause, the first thing you have to conclude is that the Town Board of Greece, New York is, in legal contemplation, the Congress of the United States.

Crazy, you say?

I agree. But this is exactly the conclusion the Supreme Court maintains through a "legal fiction" they call the "Incorporation Doctrine."

Now, assuming that anyone would believe that the Town Board of Greece, New York, in the contemplation of the Framers of the Constitution, is Congress, you still have another obvious reality that you must cover up with some blue smoke and mirrors. Namely, you need to employ another "legal fiction" to conclude that a prayer offered by a Town Board member is, in legal contemplation, a law made by the Congress.

Again, you say this is crazy.

Again, I agree.

Yet, this, dear friend, is the essence of what has, for sixty-plus years, been sold to the public as First Amendment jurisprudence.

Rather than examine the simple text of the Establishment Clause, (remember: it is only ten words long) what the Supreme Court, and other federal courts, have done for more than six decades, is to invent (and reinvent) what they call "tests" and "legal fictions" for determining whether certain actions on the part of persons or organizations violate the Establishment Clause.

For example, in 1971, the case of Lemon v. Kurtzman introduced what became known as the "Lemon test." This test invoked phrases like "secular purpose" and "primary effect" and "excessive entanglement." In later cases like Lee v. Weisman (1992), the Court reinvented its test to examine degrees of "coercion."

We can think of these "tests" that the court has confabulated just as we might think of the "smoke and mirrors" that the "great and powerful Wizard of Oz" employed to hide what was going on behind the curtain.

Essentially, the "great and powerful Wizards" on the Supreme Court, along with their fellow henchmen on the lesser federal courts, have used these phony "tests," along with "legal fictions" to hide the fact that they are playing God.

These complicated, irrational, and evolving First Amendment "tests" are a farce and a snare. They are like the Wizard's distractions and are used to fool us into thinking he has powers that he does not have.

So, why do I say that the happy church leaders are foolish and the court has NOT done a good thing in deciding in favor of the Town Board of Greece, New York?

I say this because the Supreme Court ruling in this case is still based upon phony "tests" and the "legal fictions" rather than the actual text of the Constitution. In fact, in this case the court has invented yet another "test" in order to justify its ruling in favor or the prayer. Briefly stated, the court has invented a "ceremonial test." The Court has justified its ruling by declaring that if a prayer is simply "ceremonial" and "traditional" and intended to lend to the "solemnity" of the occasion, then it may be allowable.

In other words, if a prayer merely continues a ceremonial tradition and is not really intended to, nor likely to, convict anybody of the truth of its content, then it can be allowed.

Essentially, what the court is allowing are prayers that are vain.

Have these happy church leaders forgotten that God's Word in Exodus 20:7 forbids us to take the Name of the Lord God in vain?

Don't they see that the court will allow you to pray to the Lord God so long as you are doing it vainly and sinfully?

Don't they see that the court, through phony tests and legal fictions, has taken a clause from the Constitution that forbids the government from establishing a religion and used it to establish the "religion" of atheism?

I hope and I pray that before all our liberties have vanished, we wake up to the supreme deception of the Supreme Court.

The Constitution is a clear and simply understood document. Those who hate liberty try to convince us that it is so complicated that it requires their supreme expertise.

Let's forget the tests and read the text.

Learn more about your Constitution with Michael Anthony Peroutka and his Institute on the Constitution and receive your free gift.

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