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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio celebrates Supreme Court decision on prayer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Prayers that open town council meetings do not violate the Constitution even if they routinely stress Christianity, a divided Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The court said in 5-4 decision that the content of the prayers is not significant as long as they do not denigrate non-Christians or proselytize. The ruling by the court's conservative majority was a victory for the town of Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester. The Obama administration sided with the town.

Sen. Marco Rubio, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Greece, said in a statement: "This decision is an important vindication of what defenders of religious liberty have long known: we are enriched, not threatened, by the open and free expression of religion.

“Unlike so many other countries around the world, America always has been a place where religion brings people together. In times of war and peace, tragedy and triumph, prayer has united us. Prayer has inspired many of the great reforms that have strengthened and delivered on the promises of liberty made in 1776.

“Legislative prayer, in particular, is a practice that goes back to the very Founders of the Republic. It has enriched my career as a public servant, both in the Florida legislature and now in the U.S. Senate. That tradition hung in the balance in this case. If the lower court’s decision had been allowed to stand, we would have taken a dangerous turn away from the vision of our Founders. We would have moved one step further toward the ‘naked public square’ where religion is stigmatized, feared, and something best kept private."

[Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2014 12:51pm]


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