By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
The Supreme Court has before it a case from Greece, New
York, regarding the issue of that city’s practice of opening city council
meetings with prayer.
I must preface my comments here with the caveat that I am
speaking only for myself, and that I am referring to the Constitution of the
United States as it was given to us by the Founders, not as it has been mangled
virtually out of all recognition by an activist judiciary.
With that being said, the first word in the First Amendment
makes clear that the federal government, which includes the Supreme Court, has
no constitutional authority whatsoever to prohibit a city council from opening
its meetings in prayer.
That word is “Congress.” “Congress shall make no law...” The
only entity which the Founders restrained in any way by the First Amendment is
Congress.That also means that Congress and Congress alone can violate the First
Amendment. It wasn’t written to restrain anybody else.
Thus it is impossible for city councils, in Greece, New York
or anywhere else, to violate the First Amendment for one simple reason: they’re
Likewise, it is simply impossible for a state legislature or
a school board to commit a First Amendment violation for the same reason:
they’re not Congress.
The issue of the public recognition of God and Christ was
left by the Founders intentionally as a matter for states to decide. It
literally was to be none of the central government’s business. The central
government is not allowed by the Constitution to impose religious practice on
the states and more to the point, it is not allowed to prohibit religious
If the states wanted to have an established religion - that
is, a Christian denomination recognized in law as the official church of that
state - they could. And at the time of the founding, nine had done so. So
states were allowed by the Founders to create an established church, but
Congress was not. Congress was and is forbidden by the First Amendment from
doing that for the nation; it can’t pick one Christian denomination and make it
our official national church.
But likewise, the central government is prohibited by the
First Amendment from interfering with the free exercise of religion, including
public expression of religious sentiment, anywhere at any time. It is flatly
prohibited from making a “law” “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.
Since prayer before city council meetings represents the exercise of religion,
the Court has no liberty to interfere in this matter one way or another.
In other words, if we were following the Constitution as
given to us by the Founders, this case would never have been allowed to come
before the Supreme Court or any other branch or agency of the federal
As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1808, “Certainly no power to
prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious
discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest
with the states as far as it can be in any human authority.”
The Supreme Court, by accepting this case and not sending it
back to the state of New York to be settled by state authorities according to
state law and the state constitution, is itself in violation of the First
Amendment. It is assuming authority the Founders explicitly forbade them to
The Court, by even hearing this case, is breaking down
Jefferson’s famous wall of separation, a wall established by the Constitution
to prevent the central government from meddling in religious affairs.
Jefferson was a pretty smart fella, as were the Founders who
bequeathed to us the precious protections of the Bill of Rights. Perhaps it’s
time to listen to them again.
noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect
the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)