A recent decision from a federal appeals court delivered a humiliating slap to atheists and gave traditional prayer and religion a much-needed legal boost.
The Friday ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit comes as a major seal of approval to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ invocation policy.
The policy allows guests to give religious opening prayers before the House, but bars atheists from participating.
Originally, a lower court ruled that the policy was unconstitutional due to its requirement that those giving the prayer believe in God or another higher power.
According to The Christian Post, a coalition of secular and atheist groups challenged the invocation policy in 2016.
Two years later, a federal district court judge ruled against the House, citing the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Friday’s appeal court ruling overturns that decision.
In writing for the majority, Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro was frank about the purpose of prayer and the reason why atheists have no place making a mockery of it, at least not in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Ambro wrote that “we uphold the policy because only theistic prayer can satisfy the historical purpose of appealing for divine guidance in lawmaking.”
Prayer inherently involves belief in and conversation with a divine being.
Atheists, of course, deny the very existence of a divine being.
The ruling noted that prayer in legislature has a long and solid history in the United States.
“Congress approved theistic religious expression in other ways as well,” Ambro wrote.
“A day after proposing the First Amendment,” he added, Congress “urged President Washington to proclaim ‘a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts, the many and signal favours of Almighty God.'”
It’s important to note that the policy doesn’t discriminate based on what religion the prayer-giver belongs to, as long as they do believe in a higher power.
According to Fox News, the vast majority of chaplains to offer the prayer in front of the House in recent years were Christian.
“Of the 265 Pennsylvania House guest chaplains between 2008 and 2016, 238 were Christian, 23 were Jewish, three were Muslim and one was defined only as ‘monotheistic,'” Fox reported.
Thanks to the appeals court’s decision, atheists’ targeted war on religion was dealt a blow.
Even so, the culture war in America isn’t over by a long shot.
Atheist groups still seemingly make it their duty to bully and intimidate religious groups, and this court’s ruling may only see them redouble their efforts.
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