Atheists interrupt prayer vigil on Supreme Court steps

Atheists interrupted a planned prayer vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court during the Town of Greece v. Galloway case last week, as they argued prayer has no place in public service.

The Christian Defense Coalition and Faith and Action sponsored the event in defense of religious freedom, but they were quickly shouted down by secularists protesting prayer on government-owned property, CNS News’ Katie Yoder first reported.

Protesters held signs that read, “Hi Mom, I’m an atheist” and “Keep your theocracy off my democracy,” and they shouted things like “God does not exist!” at the CDC’s Rev. Patrick Mahoney as he kneeled in prayer for the Supreme Court justices.

“The court opens with prayer,” he said. “The building across the street, the United States Capitol, opens in prayer. Our position is simple. Everyone should be allowed to express their faith values and views free from government interference or harassment.”

“We’re not isolationist, we’re not bigoted, we’re not narrow. We’re open” Mr. Mahoney told an interrupter.

A Facebook invite for the prayer vigil said that the case, which challenges a municipality’s practice of beginning each town board meeting with an invocation, “will have a major impact on Christian expressions of faith in the public square for the next generation.”

In the Town of Greece v. Galloway, two female residents of Greece, N.Y., argue that the specifics of their town’s policy of starting board meetings with a prayer violate the separation of church and state.

The town argues that the practice fits squarely in the tradition of legislative prayer, which the Supreme Court deemed constitutional in its 1983 decision in Marsh v. Chambers, Slate.com reported.

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