Federal Court Upholds Ban on Public Prayer

08/02/11 – CitizenLink.com - The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld on Friday a lower court’s ban on praying in Jesus’ name before public meetings.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State initially sued North Board of Commissioners in Forsyth, North Carolina in 2007, because opening prayers mentioned Jesus more often than not.

Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, the lone dissenter in the 2-1 decision, strongly criticized his fellow jurists:

“The majority has dared to step in and regulate the language of prayer — the sacred dialogue between humankind and God. Such a decision treats prayer agnostically; reduces it to civil nicety; … Most frightfully, it will require secular legislative and judicial bodies to evaluate and parse particular religious prayers under an array of criteria. … I respectfully submit that we must maintain a sacred respect of each religion, and when a group of citizens comes together, as does the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, and manifests that sacred respect — allowing the prayers of each to be spoken in the religion’s own voice — we must be glad to let it be.”

“America’s founders opened public meetings with prayer. There’s no reason that today’s public officials should be forced to censor the prayers of those invited to offer them simply because secularist groups don’t like people praying according to their own conscience,” said Mike Johnson, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund and founding dean of the Pressler School of Law of Louisiana College. “The legal team will confer with the county about the process of appealing today’s decision.”

Read the 4th Circuit decision: Joyner v. Forsyth County.

Read the facts about the case.

Related content:

  1. High School Valedictorian Appeals to 5th Circuit to Allow Prayer at Graduation
  2. ACLU Accuses Tennessee School District of ‘Promoting Christianity’
  3. Good News: 7th Circuit Court Throws Out National Day of Prayer Lawsuit
  4. Good News: Texas Governor, Prayer Rally Win Legal Challenge
  5. What is it About Prayer?

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