The Supreme Court of the United States opened a new term this week, and America’s highest court will be hearing a number of “weighty” cases that could have far-reaching implications. “There isn’t one single blockbuster case on the docket, as in recent Supreme Court terms, but the high court will consider a number of weighty issues. The nine justices will hear cases dealing with campaign finance, abortion, prayer in government, presidential power, affirmative action, and housing discrimination.” One of those cases, Town of Greece v. Galloway, which involves prayers given before government meetings, is one that I’ve been paying very close attention to. One, the stakes for the ruling are very high, and could change the way prayer before government functions are approached.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway could have far-reaching affects on prayers and invocations made before government and state-sponsored events. At its heart is the question of government endorsement of a particular faith, and whether sectarian prayers overwhelmingly weighted towards one faith can be made so long as a fig-leaf of neutrality is maintained in written policy. I have written about this case before, and how modern Pagans have been deeply intertwined with the development of the “model invocation policy” being challenged and with this case itself. “In just a few seconds’ time during the April Town Board meeting, Jennifer Zarpentine made Greece history. Zarpentine, a Wiccan, delivered the first-ever pagan prayer to open a meeting of the Greece Town Board.
Before I begin this week’s topic, I would like to acknowledge that today is Father’s Day. As with Motherhood, becoming a father is transformative and the beginning of a life-long journey. A very happy Father’s Day to all that walk that path offering a piece of themselves to the next generation. Now back to our regularly scheduled program…. Tomorrow is the 50th Anniversary of the SCOTUS ruling on the Abington School District, Pennsylvania vs.Schempp case. What’s that? This 1963 Supreme Court case is considered to be a major historical marker in the on-going struggle to affirm religious equality within American public schools.
Today the political elite of the United States engaged in an annual tradition, the National Prayer Breakfast, attended by every president since Eisenhower, and held up by supporters as a peace-making, problem-solving moment of unity. “The purpose of the National Prayer Breakfast, which will be held for the 60th time on Thursday, is to attempt to bridge political and even religious differences through what is called “the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth” in order that leaders consider a Higher Authority to Whom they are ultimately accountable and answerable. […] One can debate whether the National Prayer Breakfast engages in a type of “civil religion,” but there is much good that emerges from it. For at least a short time, politicians — from the President of the United States on down — acknowledge they are not as powerful as the Almighty.” However, as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) point out, the organizers of this event, the Fellowship Foundation (aka “The Family”) use its influence to further a noxious agenda.
There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. A barbershop in Massachusetts has been closed down after city inspectors found a Palo Mayombe altar and six chickens (one dead) in the basement of the establishment. Health officials have shut down the business due to unsanitary conditions in the basement. The owner claims he never did sacrifice in the basement of his business and that the animals were only there temporarily while he moved.