Prayers. It's not just for believers anymore.
A group of self described "atheists, agnostics, secular humanists and freethinkers" are suing the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to be "guest chaplains" for the House's invocation at the beginning of each session. They argue that it's discrimination to allow only believers to offer the invocation. But exactly who would an atheist invoke?
Now I know you probably think it's a bit crazy. But a Pennsylvania federal district court has already refused to dismiss the case.
According to the court:
Plaintiffs plead a policy of religious discrimination sufficient to state a First Amendment claim.So here we go.
Whether history and tradition sanctify the House‟s line of demarcation between theistic and nontheistic chaplains is a factual issue for a later day. Establishment Clause issues are inherently fact-intensive, and we must resist the academic intrigue of casting the salient inquiry too narrowly at this juncture. To the extent the parties‟ arguments evoke more nuanced constitutional questions— e.g., whether plaintiffs practice “religion” and are capable of “praying,” or whether tradition dictates that legislative prayer address a “higher power”—any such determination demands, and deserves, a fully developed record. As it stands, plaintiffs‟ challenge to the House‟s legislative prayer policy survives Rule 12 scrutiny.
I'm betting these guys or maybe guys just like them will eventually win these cases. Now, I'm not sure how any politicians will invite atheists for the invocation but it'll happen. And oh my, I guarantee the media will make a big deal of it.
HT Religions Clause