Americans United fought to keep exclusive prayers – ones that evoke particular religions – out of your town meetings, and the Supreme Court told us “NO.” --- Now Religious Right zealots are hijacking the Town of Greece v. Galloway decision, claiming they have a green light to promote the majority’s prayers in local government meetings across the nation.
Now it’s AU’s turn to say “NO!”
The Greece ruling was a bad decision, but the Court did make it clear that the First Amendment imposes limits on local governments that open their meetings with ceremonial prayers. Towns cannot discriminate on the basis of religion; town leaders cannot lead others in prayers or integrate worship into the legislative process; and invocations cannot proselytize or denigrate other belief systems.
OPERATION INCLUSION IS AN INITIATIVE TO:
- FIGHT every attempt by Religious Right zealots to infiltrate local governing bodies that do not now begin their meetings with prayer. There are thousands of local councils that are firmly committed to maintaining the wall of separation between church and state. Americans United celebrates these communities and will create a toolkit and guidelines to help them maintain the church-state wall as the only true way to guarantee the inclusion of all members of their diverse populations in the business of governance.
- EDUCATE municipal boards, state lawmakers and the public about the boundaries of this ruling. We have developed legal guidelines based on the Greece decision regarding what is permissible and what is not allowed. These will be distributed by AU’s more than 100,000 members and supporters, through extensive traditional and social-media campaigns, grassroots organizing, op-ed placements, and letter-writing campaigns. We will get these guidelines into the hands of policymakers across the nation – and educate municipalities about the limits imposed by the Court – to ensure that citizens are welcome and included in all local legislative meetings.
- MOBILIZE our chapters across the country, as well as independent activists, to certify that the rules are being followed and that minority perspectives – especially non-Christian and non-theist viewpoints – are not discriminated against. We will equip people to approach their local boards and councils to request the opportunity to offer an opening message that is inclusive and stresses the importance of church-state separation. We will establish a vehicle for activists and other citizens to report back to us when municipalities discriminate against would-be speakers or violate the spirit or principles of the Supreme Court’s decision by not including everyone.
- INVESTIGATE all violations that come to our attention. When localities discriminate, when town leaders direct audience members to stand or bow their heads in prayer or integrate worship into the legislative process, when invocations proselytize or denigrate other belief systems, Americans United’s Legal team will take action, researching the circumstances, informing violators of the parameters of the Court’s decision, and taking legal action whenever and wherever violations warrant, to ensure that all who wish to speak out are included.
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