Legislative prayer: Supreme Court to weigh in on role of religion in local government

WASHINGTON - A challenge to prayers at the start of town council meetings is the Supreme Court's latest attempt to find the appropriate role for religion in government.

The justices are hearing arguments Wednesday over opening prayers in the Rochester suburb of Greece, N.Y. A federal appeals court said the prayers violated the Constitution because nearly every prayer in an 11-year span was overtly Christian.

Greece is being backed by the Obama administration and conservative groups in arguing that the court settled this issue in 1983 when it upheld legislative prayer as part of the nation's fabric.

On the other side are the two town residents who sued over the prayers. They say that people who attend the meetings are a captive audience and should not be subjected to sectarian prayers.

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