Humanist Group Launches New Program In Response To Supreme Court's Prayer Ruling

In a swift reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Greece v. Galloway ruling on Monday, which established that opening prayers at local council meetings do not violate the First Amendment, the American Humanist Association announced a new secular invocations program on Monday with The Humanist Society, an adjunct AHA organization.

The group’s new platform provides atheists and humanists with the resources needed to deliver secular invocations during legislative meetings, including an interactive map identifying local humanists qualified to give an invocation.

“Non-religious people are often asked to contribute to a ceremonial event, but some struggle to find an alternative to religious wording,” Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said in a press release Monday. “We want to make it easier for anyone who wants to give a secular invocation so that legislative meetings can be nondiscriminatory.”

According to the AHA’s Monday press release, the new program has already approved 50 individuals to deliver secular invocations.

The high court’s conservative majority ruled that even if the invocation is overwhelmingly Christian and involves participation by ordinary citizens, the content is insignificant as long as the prayer does not “denigrate nonbelievers or religious minorities, threaten damnation, or preach conversion.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed the suit against the Greece, N.Y., Town Board and its supervisor in April, also criticized the Supreme Court's ruling -- backed by the Obama administration -- as a critical blow to the First Amendment's separation of church and state.

“The Supreme Court just relegated millions of Americans -- both believers and nonbelievers -- to second-class citizenship,” Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Monday.

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