Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America


I haven’t heard much about this in the news—everyone needs to know!

The US Supreme Court  is hearing a case Wednesday that examines whether a town board in upstate New York violated the separation of church and state when it authorized the delivery of a prayer prior to board meetings. The case is Town of Greece v. Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens (12-696). A decision is expected by June.

Traditionally, Greece town board meetings opened after a moment of silence. But in 1999, members of the board decided to have a prayer instead. They established a procedure to allow any member of the community to deliver an invocation.

Consider this–

The 55 writers of the U.S. Constitution consisted of:
26 Episcopalian Christians, 11 Presbyterian Christians, 7 Congregationalist Christians, 2 Lutheran Christians, 2 Dutch Reformed Christians, 2 Methodist Christians, 2 Quaker Christians, 2 Roman Catholic Christians, and Benjamin Franklin, said to be a deist.

The following are the words of Benjamin Franklin, who on June 28, 1787 called for prayer during the writing of the US Constitution–

Before I sit down, Mr. President, I will suggest another matter; and I am really surprised that it has not been proposed by some other member at an earlier period of our deliberations. I will suggest, Mr. President, that propriety of nominating and appointing, before we separate, a chaplain to this Convention, whose duty it shall be uniformly to assemble with us, and introduce the business of each day by and address to the Creator of the universe, and the Governor of all nations, beseeching Him to preside in our council, enlighten our minds with a portion of heavenly wisdom, influence our hearts with a love of truth and justice, and crown our labors with complete and abundant success!

Even though all but three framers agreed, Franklin’s plea did not result in a chaplain being appointed; prayer became a daily occurrence during the deliberations. And the 1st US Congress did create a Chaplaincy program that exists today. And of course there’s Washington’s famous prayer at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York celebrating the newly created US Government.

And now, Almighty Father, 

     If it is Thy holy will that we shall obtain a place and name among the nations of the earth, grant that we may be enabled to show our gratitude for Thy goodness by our endeavors to fear and obey Thee. Bless us with thy wisdom in our counsels, success in battle, and let our victories be tempered with humanity. Endow, also, our enemies with enlightened minds, that they become sensible of their injustice, and willing to restore our liberty and peace. Grant the petition of Thy servant, for the sake of whom Thou hast called Thy beloved Son; nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.

–George Washington 

Why is the Supreme Court deliberating the constitutionality of an act that was an integral component in the process of the writing of the constitution and the first act by our first President? And what is the cost of their ridiculous deliberation?


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