PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – Purchase College student Tulani Sinclair thinks prayer should be done at church or in private and not at government meetings, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to permit the practice.
The 5-4 vote on a case out of Greece, N.Y. in Monroe County, upheld a local board’s tradition of offering prayer, which often references Jesus and the Holy Spirit, before its meetings.
“Why do it in a public place?” she asked. “I don’t think it’s necessary. If there was a reason to do it I’d understand. But it’s not a big deal. They should worry about other things. If you want to pray, pray internally to yourself if you think prayer is necessary.”
Still, the Brooklyn resident who lives in a doors at Purchase College and works at a Kohl’s said she could understand both sides.
“I feel like it’s not a big deal because they’re not trying to inflict religion on other people,” she said.
Madeleine DeLorenzo, of Rye, fell squarely on one side of the issue.
“Certainly to take prayer out of everything, schools, everywhere, it’s the wrong way to go,” she said. “No one is putting a gun to anyone’s head to say ‘you have to pray.’”
DeLorenzo said she is originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland and that she knows, “all about people fighting over the same God.”
The Supreme Court voted in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway. The plaintiffs Susan Galloway, who is Jewish, and Linda Stephens, who is an atheist, said they were offended by the Christian prayers they said aligned the town with a single religion.
The case was previously heard by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
Like DeLorenzo, Diane Lamattina, of Harrison, said she agrees with the Supreme Court’s decision.
“If they don’t want to pray they don’t have to pray,” she said, adding that you have to believe in something. “They can come to the meeting after the prayer.”
Evelyn Hernandez, who works in Purchase, said “It’s the right thing to do.”
Maggie Horgan, a Larchmont resident originally from New Rochelle, said she thinks religion and government shouldn’t mix.
Hamid Ibrahim, who works in Port Chester, disagrees, saying church and state should mix. The native of Ghana in Africa said he prays before everything he does and that it shouldn’t matter what religion you follow.
“It shouldn’t be a problem because we all worship one god… I’m a Muslim, you may be a Christian. So if you pray as a Christian, as long as it’s going to one God, it’s OK with me,” he said. “Prayer before meetings is personally OK for me, but individually isn’t OK for some people.”