The separation of church and state is questioned after city council meetings in Orange County begin with prayer. This practice is now an issue before the Supreme Court. Vikki Vargas reports from Aliso Viejo for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov, 6, 2013.
Several Orange County cities could be affected by a U.S. Supreme Court debate that began Wednesday on the issue of prayer during city council meetings.
The debate was sparked by a legal challenge from two women in the town of Greece in suburban Rochester, New York, who claim that the Christian prayers that open government meetings there endorse a specific religion, NBC News reported.
Justices did not appear interested in eliminating prayer altogether, but instead wrestled Wednesday with whether to define limits that would allow prayer at meetings without making those who disagree with the message feel forced into participating, NBC News reported.
Currently, 25 cities in Orange County hold prayer before meetings, and about a dozen cities have signs in chambers that say "In God we trust."
The Supreme Court last considered the issue of prayer in government in 1983, when they ruled that the Nebraska legislature did not violate the Constitution by opening meetings with a prayer from a Presbyterian minister paid to act as the official chaplain, NBC News reported.
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