ADL: Government Sponsored Religious Favoritism “Simply Unacceptable”

New York, NY, September 25, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has joined a friend of court brief to the United States Supreme Court asserting that religious invocations at town council meetings are “simply unacceptable” and violate the Establishment Clause to the First Amendment.

In this important new church-state case, Greece v. Galloway, the court will revisit the constitutionality of legislative prayer for the first time in 30 years and consider whether a town council in upstate New York violated the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state by beginning each of its meetings with a prayer led by a member of the clergy or local citizen.

“This case has far-reaching implications,” said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director.  “Sectarian legislative prayer strikes at the heart of the First Amendment and government sponsored religious favoritism is simply unacceptable.  The government cannot align itself with one faith and make others feel like outsiders.”

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in favor of the local citizens who brought the case, holding that the Town of Greece violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The 2nd Circuit explained that the town’s procedures “virtually ensured a Christian viewpoint” because nearly all of the prayers were delivered by Christian clergy.

ADL joined with the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union and Interfaith Alliance Foundation in a coalition brief in this case.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.