Can it be that common sense has dawned upon the Supreme Court?
We're led to this belief because of a ruling handed down Monday saying that prayers before the city council meeting in Greece, N.Y., don't violate the constitutional separation of church and state.
The court ruled that the prayers are a part of the nation's tradition, and that, unlike a high school graduation, the audience is free to leave during the prayer. Thus, so long as the prayers are not putting down other religions or attempting to convert those at the meeting, they're permissible.
The court was split, 5-4, with its liberal wing stepping out against the prayers.
Unexpectedly, the Obama administration had argued in favor of the prayers, though we wonder if it fully agrees that the name of Jesus Christ can be invoked so long as no one is forced to join the prayer. Previous court rulings favored a generic "Almighty" deity without support for Christianity.
Writing for the minority, Justice Elena Kagan said the court was playing religious favorites because the town is mostly Christian and wondered if the ruling would have gone differently in a mostly Muslim town or a Jewish town.
We think the minority is using the kind of narrow-minded view that would make the United States a religion-free zone. We think it was high past time that the justices noted the First Amendment not only says "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion" but also includes the oft-forgotten "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."