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Collins supports prayer at public meetings

Posted 5 August 2013 at 12:00 am

85 members of Congress, including Collins, file Amicus Curiae brief in Supreme Court case

Press release, Congressman Chris Collins

Congressman Chris Collins, R-Clarence, showed his support for the town of Greece, NY, in the upcoming Supreme Court case, Greece v. Galloway, by signing an Amicus Curiae brief in support of Greece. He is one of 85 members of Congress to file the brief.

Greece v. Galloway, which concerns the religious establishment clause in the Constitution, will be argued this fall.

“It is clear that the Town of Greece has not violated the United States Constitution,” Collins said. “People from all over the world come to this country to escape religious persecution and are entitled to pray together with their communities as they please.”

Starting in 1999, the Greece Town Board began its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month.” Town officials invited member of all faiths, and atheists, and welcomed anyone who volunteered to give the opening prayer, Collins said. Two town residents sued, stating the primarily Christian prayers violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

The federal appeals court in New York agreed, because it found that almost all of the chaplains who offered to pray were Christian. Even though people of all faiths were welcome to offer their own prayers, the court found the prayer unconstitutional and the town of Greece was forced to stop.

Orleans County officials are closely watching the case because most County Legislature meetings include an opening prayer. The Orleans Hub talked with county officials about the issue in a May 24 article. Click here to read “Orleans Legislature closely watching Supreme Court case on prayer.”

On Friday, 85 members of Congress filed an Amicus Curiae brief stating the history of religious freedom and the importance of legislative prayer as observed daily on a national level.

“Each legislative day, the Senate and House of Representatives open with a prayer from religious leaders of all faiths, from all over the country,” Collins said. “As our federal legislative bodies welcome all, so did the Town of Greece. We must remain a nation that does not force a religion on any person, but is accepting of those who wish to publicly profess their faith and ask for guidance.”

Town of Greece v. Galloway is scheduled for oral arguments in the Supreme Court toward the end of this year.