"My Trusty Gavel" by Brian Turner / CC BY 2.0

Pennsylvania House wins appeal in atheist prayer-policy suit

Sep 3, 2019

By the Associated Press

A federal appeals court is reversing a lower court decision and ruling that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ policy barring atheists from delivering invocations doesn’t violate the U.S. Constitution.

Friday’s decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the House’s policy of limiting prayers at the start of legislative sessions to guest chaplains who believe in God or a divine or higher power.

It reverses last year’s decision by a district judge, who sided with atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and humanists in ruling that the restrictions violated constitutional prohibitions on making laws that establish a religion.

After the guest chaplain policy was blocked, House Speaker Mike Turzai began assigning the invocation to House members.

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