Liberty Institute Files Brief at the United States Supreme Court on Behalf of Christian Theologians and Scholars, including Dr. Mark Bailey, Dr. Darrell Bock, Dr. Stephen Evans, Dr. Wayne Grudem, Dr. Wayne House, Dr. Peter Lillback, Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., Fr. Ray Ryland, and Michael ThigpenPLANO, Texas, January 7, 2013 – Today, on behalf of several distinguished Christian theologians and scholars, Liberty Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the United States Supreme Court supporting a request for the High Court to hear an important religious freedom case that could determine the future of prayers before legislative bodies throughout the U.S. The theologians seek to overturn the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s ruling in the case Galloway v. Town of Greece, which declared the town’s legislative prayers unconstitutional because they were not religiously diverse. A copy of the brief may be found here.
Liberty Institute represents Dr. Mark Bailey (President of Dallas Theological Seminary), Dr. Darrell L. Bock (Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary), Dr. Stephen Evans (Professor at Baylor University), Dr. Wayne Grudem (Professor at Phoenix Seminary), Dr. H. Wayne House (Professor at Faith Evangelical Seminary), Dr. Peter A. Lillback (President of Westminster Theological Seminary), Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. (President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Father Ray Ryland (Professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville), and J. Michael Thigpen (Executive Director of Evangelical Theological Society).
Liberty Institute General Counsel Jeff Mateer said, “There is a fundamental conflict among the appellate courts regarding the nature of religious liberty and the freedom to pray according to the dictates of conscience before legislative bodies. To resolve this conflict, the Supreme Court should agree to hear this case and reinforce the freedom to pray according to the dictates of conscience instead of permitting courts to force prayers into a state-established orthodoxy of ‘neutrality.’”
In Marsh v. Chambers, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the danger of judicial intrusion into prayer and declared, “The content of the prayer is not of concern to judges where, as here, there is no indication that the prayer opportunity has been exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief. That being so, it is not for us to embark on a sensitive evaluation or to parse the content of a particular prayer.”
Mateer added, “Americans have every right under the Constitution to pray publically before governmental bodies in whichever way they so choose. Forcing any person—theologian, scholar or any other private citizen—to censor his speech and dictating what he may or may not pray violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.”
In 2011, Liberty Institute won a huge victory against the Department of Veterans Affairs who violated the First Amendment by requiring a pastor to submit his prayer for approval before allowing him to pray at a Memorial Day event at the Houston National Cemetery. Then, in 2012, Liberty Institute’s President and CEO Kelly Shackelford testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs to support H.R. 2720, a bill by Rep. John Culberson that prohibits the federal government from religious censorship during veterans’ funeral services.
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.