Richard C. Schragger
Micah J. Schwartzman

Town of Greece and the Demise of Religious Neutrality

CO-AUTHORS Nelson Tebbe


The Court has decided the first of two anticipated blockbuster religion clause cases this term. In Town of Greece v. Galloway, it held that a town legislature may open its meetings by inviting a minister to offer an explicitly sectarian and denominationally specific prayer without running afoul of the Establishment Clause. Constitutional prohibitions apply only if there is a long-term practice of giving prayers that proselytize or denigrate other faiths, or perhaps if there is evidence of intentional discrimination in selecting prayer-givers. Yet the fact that a government-sponsored prayer is always given by a Christian minister and promotes Christian beliefs is not evidence of discrimination. In over a decade, every prayer given at the start of board meetings in the Town of Greece was delivered by a Christian clergyperson, and two-thirds of those included theologically specific content, such as references to the divinity of Jesus Christ.


Richard C. Schragger, Micah J. Schwartzman & Nelson Tebbe, Town of Greece and the Demise of Religious Neutrality, Balkinization (May 6, 2014).

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