Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
A town official praying a specific way does NOT violate the establishment clause. It is common sense that CONGRESS has not set forth an official religion when a town councilman prays to open a meeting in his municipality. There is no wall of separation between church and state found anywhere in the Constitution. That comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in Connecticut who were concerned that there may be an official denomination (not necessarily religion in general) chosen as the official national religion.
As a matter of fact, it was in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (sometimes called the Philadelphia Convention) where Benjamin Franklin, arguably the least spiritual of the delegates, brought it to the attention of the assembly that they had failed to begin each day's activities with prayer and beseeched that they start doing so.
Being totally ignorant, secularly minded, and having the "spirit of anti-Christ", all three judges of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that praying in the name of Jesus is unconstitutional. Here is the article on the topic. Here is an excerpt from the article.
Using Jesus' name during public prayers is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The 2006 case involved a city councilman in Fredericksburg, Va., who had frequently used the name of Jesus during prayer to open meetings.
The three-judge panel for the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Wednesday that "the practice of members of Town Council invoking name(s) specifically associated with the Christian faith violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment."
Here in Selma, we had the ACLU threaten a lawsuit for the same thing and the town council backed down. Finally, the mayor decided to continue prayer in Jesus' name. I personally offered to help pay for a legal defense should the town get sued. Some things are worth fighting for. This is a matter of principle, not just of Christian principle, but of proper application of the law and the Constitution.
Do you want to know what the Founding Fathers thought on this issue? Here is an excellent list of their own words on that subject. Also, a friend of mine with whom I co-host The Patriots Pub has an article on the separation of church and state...and he is an agnostic. Yet, he feels the exact same way I do in regards to original intent and the founding of the nation and the prevailing religious views of the day. If you want an emailed copy, just email me.
Some things are worth fighting over. This is one. It is a matter of freedom, truth, and the foundation of American society.