Atheist’s Lawyer: Devil Worshippers May Be OK with Prayers to ‘Almighty’ If They Believe It Applies to Satan

By Penny Starr | November 8, 2013 | 4:14pm EST

Satan as depicted by Gustave Dore. (Wikimedia Commons image)

( – The lawyer representing an atheist and another woman who sued to stop the practice of opening city hall meetings with sectarian prayers told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that devil worshippers might not be offended by prayers that include “the Almighty’ if those worshippers believe that term applies to Satan.

The remark came during an exchange between justices and Douglas Laycock, who argued on behalf of the women in the Town of Greece, New York v. Susan Galloway case, which is being heard by the high court after lower court rulings decided both for and against the women.

Now the Supreme Court will issue a decision on whether prayers in legislative settings violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Justice Samuel Alito asked Laycock if he was arguing that there should be no prayer at public meetings.

Alito asked Laycock to give him an example of a prayer that would be acceptable to people of all faiths.

After much back and forth – including the addition and then subtraction of atheists to an “acceptable” prayer – Laycock said: “The prayers to the almighty, prayers to the creator.”

“To ‘the almighty,’” Alito said.

“Yes,” Laycock said.

As the exchange continued, Justice Antonin Scalia weighed in.

“What about devil worshippers?” Scalia asked.

“Well, if devil worshippers believe the devil is the almighty, they might be okay,” Laycock said.

Lawyers for the Town of Greece – which is backed by the U.S. government – argued that American history and tradition allow for prayers to be spoken in a legislative body, including the United States Congress and the Supreme Court, which opens each session with “God Save the United States and this honorable court.”

The nine-judge panel is made up of six Catholics and three Jews.

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