Non-believers say high court ruling on prayer in public meetings is unfair

The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 to allow prayer in public meetings in Greece, New York.

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 to allow prayer in public meetings in Greece, New York.

The case comes after a two women, one Jewish and the other atheist, sued the town after attending several public meetings that allowed prayer.

While the ruling was a big win for the New York town, the decision also had an effect on South Carolinians.

"We're pretty disappointed by it", said Dustin Tucker, founder of the Columbia Coalition of Reason. "It makes you feel like you're not as important to the people that are sitting on that government board, that city council, on the county commission. They're saying we're going to have our Christian prayer. You get nothing."

Tucker adds that people like him are not asking for much, but for equality.

However, for Christian believers like Dr. Oran Smith, he argues that prayer is a part of the nation's history and a step forward that the highest court of the land deemed fair.

"I think the whole act of prayer is acknowledgment that there is someone greater than just those of us, humans. There is an almighty, a power that governs the universe and when we're trying to make tough decisions, it's important to tap into that, and I think that's what prayer says," Dr. Oran Smith, President of the Palmetto Family Council.

"Public institutions such as government are supposed to be inclusive. Government is for everyone regardless of race color religion, what have you," added Tucker.

Under the South Carolina Public Invocation Act, local governments around the state have three options for delivering an invocation.

The city of West Columbia is just one of several in the Midlands offering prayer during its meetings.

In a statement, West Columbia's spokesperson tells WACH Fox, "An invocation at the opening of a council meeting has been a custom of the West Columbia City Council for well over 60 years. Minutes from as far back as a November 18, 1945 meeting indicate that council opened the meeting with prayer. Over the years I've heard council members say that invocations help them to focus on the importance of doing what is in the best interest of the city and its citizens. We've never encountered anyone attending the meetings who felt coerced or embarrassed by the invocations. Rather, people seem to feel invocations impart a sense of earnestness to the meetings."

In the opinion for the majority's ruling Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy said prayers and invocations have been a routine feature of state legislatures and city councils throughout American history, He adds that the court was unwilling to set specific limits on those prayers.

â??Itâ??s discouraging, but itâ??s not going to keep us away,â?? concluded Tucker.