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First Amendment - Prayer Luncheon

First Amendment - Prayer Luncheon

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Published by: Haley and Associates on Feb 02, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/02/2011

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*Also admitted to practice in California†Also admitted to practice in New York ‡Also admitted to practice in Wyoming
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www.KLN-law.comDarold W. KillmerDavid A. Lane*
Mari Newman*Sara J. RichQusair Mohamedbhai
Siddartha RathoudLisa R. Sahli
February 2, 2011Editorial BoardColorado Springs GazetteRe:
 Air Force Academy Prayer Luncheon
The Editor is indeed correct in citing Christine O’Donnell’s view that the words “separation of church and state” appear nowhere in the First Amendment. Similarly, the words “privacy,”“abortion,” and “handgun” never make an appearance either, however all are deemed by theSupreme Court to be of Constitutional magnitude.The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the government may not, within thebounds of the First Amendment, take a position regarding the propriety of one particular brandof religion over another, or of religion over non-religion. See
 McCreary County v. AmericanCivil Liberties Union
, a 2005 decision. “When the government associates one set of religiousbeliefs with the state and identifies nonadherents as outsiders, it encroaches upon theindividual’s decision about whether and how to worship.” The Court has also said that
.
“Government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion” in a case knownas
Grumet 
. The Supreme Court has further held that the “government may not promote oraffiliate itself with any religious doctrine or organization, may not discriminate among personson the basis of their religious beliefs and practices, may not delegate a governmental power to areligious institution, and may not involve itself too deeply in such an institution’saffairs.”(
 Epperson v. Arkansas)
. Lastly the Court has held that “Government in our democracy,state and national, must be neutral in matters of religious theory, doctrine, and practice. It maynot be hostile to any religion or to the advocacy of no-religion; and it may not aid, foster, orpromote one religion or religious theory against another or even against the militant opposite.The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, andbetween religion and nonreligion.”When the command structure at the Air Force Academy sponsors, promotes, endorses andorganizes a religious event such as a prayer luncheon, the government has crossed the lineseparating church from state. That is precisely what has occurred in this case. As such, itmatters not whether the keynote speaker is a Christian, Jew, Muslim or Buddhist. Ourgovernment is not in the religion business unlike the governments of such countries as SaudiArabia, Iran and most other middle-eastern nations. Whether the luncheon is voluntary or not

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