Hindu American Leaders Highly Concerned by Supreme Court Decision Supporting Sectarian Prayer
Washington, D.C. (May 5, 2014) -- Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) expressed strong disappointment and concern today after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the expressly sectarian prayers conducted by the town board of Greece, New York.
"Today's decision is inconsistent with previous Supreme Court decisions preventing government endorsement of specific religious beliefs," said Harsh Voruganti, Esq., HAF's Associate Director of Public Policy. "Unfortunately, this decision may open the door to government sanctioned sectarian prayers."
The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision upheld the use of sectarian prayers by the Greece town board, even though virtually all the prayers offered endorsed the Christian faith. In dissenting from the decision, Justice Elena Kagan noted:
"[O]ur public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian." Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. __ (2014) (J. Kagan, dissenting).
In September 2013, HAF joined a coalition of religious and secular organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, in a friend-of-the-court brief opposing the town board prayers.
"HAF's position has always been that government should maintain neutrality towards religion: neither endorsing nor condemning any faith." said Nikhil Joshi, Esq. a member of HAF's Executive Council and co-founder. "Unfortunately, sectarian prayers at government functions often cross the line into government endorsement of religion."
HAF leaders also expressed concern that the decision may lead to increased harassment and alienation of religious minorities in the United States.