Court Refuses To Intervene In North Carolina Prayer Case

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Press Release from American’s United:

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it will not intervene in a controversy over sectarian prayer before meetings of the Forsyth County, N.C., Board of Commissioners.

The justices’ action leaves in place an appellate court decision barring the county from regularly opening its meetings with Christian invocations.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, one of the groups sponsoring the lawsuit, said the high court was right not to intervene.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “When government meetings are opened regularly with Christian prayer, it sends the unmistakable message that non-Christians are second-class citizens in their own community. That’s unconstitutional, and it’s just plain wrong.

“All Americans ought to feel welcome at governmental meetings,” he continued. “The Constitution clearly forbids government to play favorites when it comes to religion.”

The record in the Joyner v. Forsyth County case indicates that 26 of the 33 invocations given from May 29, 2007, until Dec. 15, 2008, contained at least one reference to Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christ, Savior or the Trinity.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Janet Joyner and Constance Lynn Blackmon, two county residents and members of the Winston-Salem Chapter of Americans United. They are being represented by Americans United and the ACLU of North Carolina.

On July 29, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the county’s prayer practice is unconstitutional.

“Faith is as deeply important as it is deeply personal,” wrote Judge J. Harvey Wilkinson, “and the government should not appear to suggest that some faiths have it wrong and others got it right.”

Americans United Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan said the appeals court came to the correct conclusion.

“America is extremely diverse when it comes to religious opinion and government must respect that diversity,” Khan said. “Government preference for one faith over others is a recipe for social discord.”

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6 thoughts on “Court Refuses To Intervene In North Carolina Prayer Case

  1. Kudos to the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, for this victory. May we see an ever increasing landslide of decisions and actions similar to this one.

  2. And whether the local fascists will take to Twitter/Fb, et al, to condemn Ms Joyner and Ms Blackmon, threaten to rape them and curb stomp them, look forward to them suffering for all eternity, and otherwise demonstrate the moralizing power of faith.

  3. Seems like I heard something about this, or a similar case, but the prayer took place before the meeting was officially open. So they argued that they were just citizens praying together. Ironically, they had a man arrested for interrupting their prayer citing that he was being disruptive DURING the meeting. How was he disrupting the meeting if it hadn’t yet begun?

    Then there was one where a town council in Florida tried to kick an atheist group out of the meeting and threatened to employ police to enforce their demand if they didn’t comply with the councils request that they cover up the message on their shirts or change clothes. According to a councilman, some people watching from home found the shirts offensive (white T-shirts with the words “One nation, indivisible. Atheists of Florida” written on a background of the American flag).

    “[councilman] King indicated that the shirts were in violation of council policy. He further warned that if the shirts were still visible, anyone wearing the attire would be asked to leave and if necessary, Cape Coral police would be employed to enforce the demand.” After asking the council to produce the policy that prohibited their attire, they were told the shirts “should be okay.”

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