United States court upholds courtroom prayer tradition

U.S Supreme Court

A Texas judge, who was sued after he permitted religious leaders to start court sessions with prayers, has gotten the support of the federal appeals court in the United States.

On Thursday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion overturning a lower court ruling against Justice Peace Wayne Mack of Montgomery County, Texas.

According to the court, Mack could continue his court sessions with invocations because he gives notice in advance to those who may not want to attend.

The opinion, which was authored by Judge Jerry Smith, read, "The plaintiffs cry coercion because Texas Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack opens his court with a ceremony that includes a prayer. But Mack also takes great pains to convince attendees that they need not watch the ceremony — and that doing so will not affect their cases.

"Some attendees say they feel subjective pressure anyway. Yet the plaintiffs have no evidence suggesting that 'coercion is a real and substantial likelihood.'" 

Meanwhile, Mack's court has a message inscribed on the door and television screen stating, "It is the tradition of this court to have a brief opening ceremony that includes a brief invocation by one of our volunteer chaplains… You are not required to be present or participate."

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