The U.S. Supreme Court this week permitted government officials across the nation to begin legislative meetings with a prayer, after the town of Greece, New York, defended itself on conducting Christian invocations before official monthly meetings.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court said sectarian invocations do not automatically violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion.

Minority religious groups voiced their opposition to the ruling. The Hindu American Foundation (HAF), an advocacy organisation for the Hindu-American community, said its leaders had “expressed strong disappointment and concern” over the ruling, particularly as they believed it was “inconsistent with previous Supreme Court decisions preventing government endorsement of specific religious beliefs.”

Harsh Voruganti, HAF’s Associate Director of Public Policy, said the decision “may open the door to govern-ment sanctioned sectarian prayers.”

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