Liberal attendees at Louisiana Republican senator Bill Cassidy’s Wednesday town hall meeting yelled protests throughout the opening prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Cassidy had hoped to have serious discussions of pressing issues, such as health care and immigration reform and the economy. Instead, he was constantly interrupted and jeered by protesters, repeating slogans often heard at anti-Republican rallies.
When Louisiana State chaplain Dr. Michael Sprague attempted to open the meeting by announcing that he would begin the prayer, the crowd began shouting him down.
In a video captured at the event, people can be heard yelling, “Prayer? Prayer?” while others called out, “Separation of church and state.”
“Pray on your own time. This is our time,” another protester bellowed.
The crowd quieted as Sprague prayed, but erupted again when he concluded, “We pray in Jesus’ name,” which garnered more shouting about the separation of church and state.
Despite their tactics, the protesters were incorrect in assuming that the prayer infringed on their religious rights. Opening prayers at legislative meetings are protected by the 2014 Supreme Court case, Town of Greece v. Galloway.
Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the Court concludes: “The town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition and does not coerce participation by nonadherents.”
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The protesters continued to rant as a local veteran led the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. Numerous attendees refused to stand for the Pledge, choosing to remain seated and shout at the senator.
A familiar refrain, “Do your job!” was heard from protesters, along with, “Get on with it.” One man shouted, “Your words run hollow. Your words run hollow.”
The following video captures what happened during the Pledge of Allegiance.
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