A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., heard oral arguments Oct. 18 in a lawsuit challenging the U.S. House of Representatives' policy regarding the invocations that open its sessions.
The House and the U.S. Senate have taxpayer-funded chaplains who often open daily sessions with an invocation. Many times, though, the chaplain brings in a guest religious leader to handle the task.
While a variety of Christian ministers as well as Jewish, Muslim and Hindu leaders have offered invocations, House policy bars non-theists from offering a secular invocation --a policy that's now being challenged in court.
The lawsuit, Barker v. Conroy, asserts that the House's policy, which says that a person must be "ordained by a recognized body" and that ordination must be "in the faith in which he/she practices," discriminates against non-theists.
Dan Barker, who is a co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which brought the case, is now an...