Indiana May Be Leading Player In Prayer Issue
State Attorney General Greg Zoeller says Indiana will likely play a leading role in a U-S Supreme Court involving government prayer. As Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith reports, it’s not the first time Indiana has dealt with the issue in court:
In 2005, a U-S District Court ruled the Indiana General Assembly’s practice of praying before each session was unconstitutional. A circuit court later reversed the ruling, saying those who challenged the state’s practice did not have legal standing to do so. It did not weigh in on the question of constitutionality…which is one reason Attorney General Greg Zoeller says his office wrote a legal brief encouraging the U-S Supreme Court to consider a case in which a New York town’s use of prayer before board meetings is being challenged. Zoeller says the case could affect larger legal issues:
“Really, have we used the Establishment defense – saying that we shouldn’t try to establish a state-sanctioned religion – to limit people’s free exercise?”
Reba Boyd Wooden is the Indiana executive director for the atheist organization Center for Inquiry. She says the General Assembly’s daily prayer before each session marginalizes those who don’t practice religion:
“The religious people seem to think that when you try to grant any kind of respect or equality to people of other religions than their own or particularly people who have no religion, that it’s infringing on their religious freedom and that’s not true.”
Zoeller says because Indiana has been involved in a court case surrounding government prayer before, his office will play a major role in leading a group of states in a brief to the Supreme Court. For Indiana Public Broadcasting, I’m Brandon Smith.