Adams Stirling PLC


Pledge of Allegiance. It is common for many organizations to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of their meetings. It is fairly routine and noncontroversial:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Directors and owners have the right to make political statements by refusing to recite the pledge. 

Civic Prayer. Civic prayer has been a tradition in our Country since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. The pledge of allegiance was added to civic functions in the late 1800s. Both remained noncontroversial until the 1960s when significant change roiled through the nation challenging institutional traditions at all levels. The courts became a battle ground for church/state issues.

Court Review. In the 1983 case Marsh vs. Chambers, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prayer at public meetings followed a long, historic tradition and was constitutional. Citing public prayers from George Washington's inaugural address to George Bush's cabinet meetings, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that "prayers and the invocation of divine guidance have been accepted as part of American political discourse throughout the history of this Republic." DeBoer v. Village of Oak Park, Ill.

Homeowners Associations. Thus far, the church/state battle has not affected homeowners associations because HOAs are private organizations, not governmental entities. As a result, the "wall of separation" argument does not apply to board meetings. Even so, many are uncomfortable with public prayer and each board must decide for itself whether to use it. It should be noted that a policy adopted by one board does not bind subsequent boards.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC