Court asks who should lead prayer before government meeting

Source: Associated Press

By ALANNA DURKIN RICHER

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Does it matter whether a prayer opening a government meeting is led by local clergy or an elected official?

That’s a question a federal appeals court is wrestling with in a unique case examining the constitutional requirement of separating church and state. The case will likely eventually wind up before the Supreme Court.

An attorney for a North Carolina county commission told the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday that the body’s practice of beginning meetings with Christian prayers fits squarely under a high court decision in a similar case in 2014. The only difference in this case is that the Rowan County commissioners deliver the prayers themselves instead of local clergy members, attorney Allyson Ho said.

“The Supreme Court has expressly approved every feature of the county’s prayer practice, save one: that the legislators pray,” Ho said.

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