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.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.