Court Upholds Indiana On Good Friday

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal of a lower court ruling and allowed the state of Indiana to continue giving Good Friday off as a state holiday.

Russell Bridenbaugh of Bloomington, Indiana, had gone to court over the practice contending that his state improperly advances or promotes the Christian religion.

Roger Pilon, Vice President of Legal Affairs of Cato Institute in Washington, told CNSNews.com, "These kinds of suits are shoring up the wall of separation of church and state but they're misdirected. The recognition by government of certain religious holidays is not so much a recognition of religion as it is a recognition of a practical reality. Namely, the practitioners of the dominant religions will be taking those days off anyway."

Pilon also said the court ruling does not violate the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

"Thus, as a practical matter, the government agencies close down those days. That, for example, is why we take Sunday off and not Wednesday. You can see this principle at work where you have minority religions reach a critical mass in the population. In a number of suburban jurisdictions with significant concentrations of Jewish families, for example, the public schools are closed for Jewish holidays. That's unlike public schools in areas with very few Jewish families. This is simply a practical accommodation and not a recognition of religion that would run afoul of the First Amendment's establishment clause," Pilon told CNSNews.com.

However, the Americans United For Separation of Church and State didn't agree with the high court action.

"We think that states should not be permitted to officially declare Good Friday a holiday because it has absolutely no secular purpose. Other holidays that began with a religious foundation, including Christmas, have gone beyond that to develop secular proponents. Good Friday, of course, has not," Barry Lynn, executive director, Americans United For Separation of Church and State, told CNSNews.com.

Governor Frank O'Bannon's (D-IN) office had no comment on the court action after repeated calls for comment by CNSNews.com.