Apparently a majority of US Supreme Court justices think it's okay to say Christian prayers at the opening of a town council meeting. There seems to be widespread agreement among all justices that there's nothing wrong with prayers as long as the town makes an effort to be inclusive. The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. He says that making the prayers "nonsectarian" would be equivalent to asking the politicians to "to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech."
He also says that as long as the town tries to accommodate all faiths there's nothing wrong with prayers, even if almost all the churches were Christian [TOWN OF GREECE, NEW YORK v. GALLOWAY ET AL.].
To hold that invocations must be nonsectarian would force the legislatures that sponsor prayers and the courts that are asked to decide these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech, a rule that would involve government in religious matters to a far greater degree than is the case under the town’s current practice of neither editing or approving prayers in advance nor criticizing their content after the fact.Only one of the judges put her finger on the real issue. Justice Elena Kagan said,
Finally, the Court disagrees with the view taken by the Court of Appeals that the town of Greece contravened the Establishment Clause by inviting a predominantly Christian set of ministers to lead the prayer. The town made reasonable efforts to identify all of the congregations located within its borders and represented that it would welcome a prayer by any minister or layman who wished to give one. That nearly all of the congregations in town turned out to be Christian does not reflect an aversion or bias on the part of town leaders against minority faiths. So long as the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination, the Constitution does not require it to search beyond its borders for non-Christian prayer givers in an effort to achieve religious balancing.
When a person goes to court, a polling place, or an immigration proceeding — I could go on: to a zoning agency, a parole board hearing, or the DMV — government officials do not engage in sectarian worship, nor do they ask her to do likewise. They all participate in the business of government not as Christians, Jews, Muslims (and more), but only as Americans — none of them different from any other for that civic purpose. Why not, then, at a town meeting?Exactly. Why is it necessary to have prayers at town meetings? Just drop them like most cities and towns in Ontario did when our Appeals Court ruled that they violated the Charter of Rights? [see Prayer at Mississauga City Council]