The five justices of the U. S. Supreme Court who voted to permit sectarian prayers before public meetings failed to imagine how religious minorities experience those prayers, writes E. J. Dionne in The Washington Post.
Religious liberty, wrote Justice Elaine Kagan in her dissent, is based on
“the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian.”
Religious liberty will not disappear because of the court’s 5-to-4 ruling that the government of Greece, N.Y., can begin its town board meetings with prayers — even though, as Kagan put it, “month in and month out for over a decade,” they were “steeped in only one faith,” Christianity.
But the court majority not only failed the empathy test but also lost the opportunity Kagan offered to find a balance that would both honor religion’s role in American public life and safeguard the rights of those whose faith commitments diverge from the majority’s.
Do you agree?