ADF attorney available to media after hearing over NY town’s right to open meetings with prayer

ADF attorneys defend town of Greece in lawsuit filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WHO: ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster
WHAT: Available for media interviews after hearing in Galloway v. Town of Greece
WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 13, immediately following hearing, which begins at 3 p.m. EDT
WHERE: U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, Kenneth B. Keating Federal Court Building, U.S. Courthouse, 100 State St., Room 1560, Rochester

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster will be available for media interviews Thursday following his oral arguments at a hearing over the right of the Greece Town Board to open public meetings with prayer.  Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sued the town on behalf of two residents who objected to the practice.

“America’s founders opened public meetings with prayer. Public officials today should be able to do the same,” said Oster. “The practice of opening public meetings with prayer has always been lawful in America. Those opposing invocations are essentially arguing that our Founding Fathers were violating the Constitution when they prayed before their own meetings.”

In February 2008, AU filed a lawsuit against the town of Greece on behalf of residents Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, who alleged that the opening invocations at town meetings are unconstitutional.

ADF attorneys responded to the lawsuit the following month, arguing that allowing councils to acknowledge America’s religious heritage and invoke divine guidance and blessings upon their work has always been constitutional. At the hearing Thursday, Oster will argue in favor of an order from the court that would award summary judgment in favor of the town.

ADF-allied attorney Laurence Behr of Buffalo is serving as local counsel in the suit.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.