GREECE, New York: The 100,000 resident town of Greece, NY, has violated a constitutional ban against favoring one religion over another, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in what is being deemed a significant test to the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state. The decision, issued on the May 17, 2012, stated that by opening nearly every monthly town meeting with Christian-centric prayers, the town was favoring Christianity over other religions.
The meetings in question took place every month between 1999 and 2007, and from January 2009 to June 2010, in the suburb of Rochester, NY. Who was to deliver the invocation was decided each month by a town employee who chose clerics or lay people from a local published guide of churches that did not include any places of worship outside of the Christian denomination. After complaints from two town residents, four of the 12 meetings in 2008 were opened by invocations from other faiths.
The suit first brought in 2010, was originally decided in favor of the city of Greece. The lower court ruled that there was no indication that one faith was favored over another, or that the town purposely excluded other faiths. The decision was overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling that "the town's process for selecting prayer-givers virtually ensured a Christian viewpoint.”
According to the town’s lawyer, the town is currently considering its legal options including an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.