Commissioner John Griesheimer and the Franklin County elected officials stood their ground against the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and won! The ACLU has abandoned their legal challenge against these leaders who permit invocations to be offered before meetings of the Franklin County Commission! The lawsuit was dismissed on July 19th in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Missouri.
This lawsuit is an example of the strategy atheists are using to put an end to prayer in government settings altogether, or at least reduce them to "non-sectarian" (not connected to any specific religion). Their goal is clear, to end prayer in the name of Jesus Christ and to erase America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
This is an excellent example of the effect that two leaders standing for justice and truth can have against the bullying tactics of these anti-God groups. Should the ACLU have succeeded in silencing prayer in Franklin County, this could have impacted prayer in all government proceedings. This lawsuit was merely a means to intimidate leaders and citizens into giving up their God-given rights - but these leaders took a stand.
The suit was brought by an unnamed citizen, and the U. S. District Judge ruled that the County Commissioners had the legal right to face their accuser, and that the unnamed citizen who filed the complaint could not remain anonymous.
In the midst of this lawsuit Commissioner John Griesheimer boldly decided to offer the invocations himself, bringing additional charges against him. The ACLU contended that the official presentation of prayer by an elected official constituted an unconstitutional entanglement of government with religion. Now that the entire lawsuit has been dismissed, the accusation of unconstitutional behavior against Griesheimer is moot.
The overwhelming passage (83 to 17) of Amendment 2 last August in Missouri has been thought to play an important role in this victory. The religious liberty language endorsed by Missouri voters prohibits discrimination against religious speech. It guarantees that "elected officials...shall have the right to pray on government premises and public property so long as such prayer abides within the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances."
In recent years, atheist legal advocates have contended that invocations are only permissible when they are "non-sectarian," with their target the removal of any references to Christianity. Yet most federal appeals courts have ruled that "sectarian" prayers are constitutionally permissible. They have reaffirmed the precedent established in Marsh v. Chambers that it is not the business of the government to prescribe or regulate the content of prayers offered in public settings.
Continue to pray for victory in the cases involving legislative prayer that will be heard in the Colorado Supreme Court case and the U.S. Supreme Court. The battle is not over, we must stay engaged and remember the principles of faith and freedom. It's our heritage! It's our right! We must not relinquish it now... or ever.
Go to CPC Foundation to learn more or get involved.