(WORLD NEWS) – Secularist advocacy groups trying to ban prayer at public meetings won a legal victory on May 17.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled against the town board of Greece, N.Y., which opens meetings with prayers. The town had invited pastors and lay people from a variety of denominations and religions– even atheists – to say these prayers. Some non-Christian clerics, including a Wiccan priestess, had offered a few prayers in 2008.
Nevertheless, the 2nd Court concluded that “the town’s prayer practice had the effect of affiliating the town with Christianity,” affirming arguments made by plaintiffs’ lawyers from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Christians have uttered most of the prayers, the decision noted, and they have often included Christian terms like “Jesus” or “Your Son.” Citing a Supreme Court precedent in Marsh v. Chambers (1983), the court conceded that prayers at government meetings are not by definition unconstitutional. But it contended that the board needed to go out of its way to make the prayers nonsectarian.
Greece city officials countered that almost all the formal religious organizations in the town are Christian, leaving them few options for non-Christian supplicants. The court suggested that the board might have pursued non-Christian clergy in the surrounding region to fulfill its religious diversity quota. The Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the town, plans to appeal the ruling.
Target Raises Money
for Same-Sex Marriage Group
Target, the nation’s second-largest retailer, could be sending as much as $120,000 to a homosexual activist group through its online sale of “pride” shirts.
The site says 100 percent of the sales of the rainbow-themed shirts will go to the Family Equality Council, a gay-activist organization. Among other issues, it lobbies for gay adoption, the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and same-sex marriage.
Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the American Family Association, denounced the retailer for crossing into social activism. “Really what Target is saying is that we’re going to take sides in this social agenda and we’re not going to support natural marriage, we’re going to support homosexual marriage,” he said.
On a rainbow flag on the Target website, it declares “June is National Pride Month.”
The site promises that “Target will donate 100 percent of the purchase price for each PRIDE item sold between May 20, 2012 and June 30, 2012 to Family Equality Council, up to a maximum donation of $120,000.”
The Family Equality Council is also among the “community partners” listed on the “diversity” page of Target’s Web site.