The Godless group was fighting to claim that an atheist could deliver the opening session with a non-religious invocation, but that didn’t fly.
On Friday, the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia remained true to the law and upheld the fact that each day’s session must begin with a religious prayer to a ‘higher authority.’
The Washington Examiner reported:
The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia came in a case filed by Daniel Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and a former Christian minister who is now an atheist, who argued the House violated the First Amendment when it denied his request to deliver a secular invocation.
Rev. Patrick Conroy, the House chaplain, rejected Barker’s application in 2015 to serve as a guest chaplain because he was “ordained in a denomination in which he no longer practices.”
But over the course of litigation challenging that denial, Conroy said Barker could not serve as a guest chaplain because he wanted to deliver a secular prayer.
The House also specified that its rules require a religious invocation to be delivered.
“[T]he House does not violate the Establishment Clause by limiting its opening prayer to religious prayer,” the court said.
The D.C. Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling dismissing Barker’s claim that his First Amendment rights were violated, giving a victory to Conroy.
“Even though we accept as true Barker’s allegation that Conroy rejected him ‘because he is an atheist,’ the House’s requirement that prayers must be religious nonetheless precludes Barker from doing the very thing he asks us to order Conroy to allow him to do: deliver a secular prayer,” the court said.
“In other words, even if, as Barker alleges, he was actually excluded simply for being an atheist, he is entitled to none of the relief he seeks. We could not order Conroy to allow Barker to deliver a secular invocation because the House permissibly limits the opening prayer to religious prayer.”
The case dates back to 2015, when Barker sought to serve as a guest chaplain in the House and deliver the invocation, which is given at the start of each legislative day.
Guest chaplains are required to be sponsored by a member of Congress, ordained, and address a “higher power” rather than House members.
Democrat Mark Pocan sponsored Barker, and he provided the Chaplain’s Office with a certification of his ordination and a copy of his draft secular invocation.
The Chaplain’s Office, however, denied Barker’s request to serve as a guest chaplain in December 2015 because, as Conroy explained in a subsequent letter, he did not satisfy the requirement that guest chaplains “be ordained by a recognized body in the faith in which [they] practice.”
Barker then sued Conroy, the House and then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in 2016 and argued Conroy’s denial ran afoul of the First Amendment.
Conroy moved to dismiss the claims, and the federal district court in D.C. agreed.
As the case played out, the House specified that those who wish to deliver a secular invocation rather than a prayer cannot do so under the chamber’s rules.
“The question then, is this: does the House’s decision to limit the opening prayer fit ‘within the tradition long followed in Congress and the state legislatures?’ The answer is yes,” the court said, citing the Supreme Court’s ruling in a 2014 case upholding the practice of opening legislative sessions with a prayer.
Basically, this was a deliberate effort to remove the law, which intends that Congress must be guided by a higher power… and for the large majority of the Founding Fathers, that power is the Hebrew God.
The group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, spends millions of dollars every year fighting to remove every vestige of Christianity from the public culture. They rarely target Islam or any other religion. They hate God, and working with an evil intention, demand that His presence in the nation be obliterated.
Thankfully, they failed to remove Him from the morning invocation in the House of Representatives.