Federal Court Rules Against Christian-Only Government Prayer In North Carolina

Source: Huffington Post

It’s the latest development in a contentious legal battle over government-sponsored religion and prayer.

A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that a government prayer practice in North Carolina was unconstitutional because a local board of commissioners only allowed its elected representatives, all of whom are Christian, to deliver religious invocations.

For years, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners has opened its twice-monthly meetings with a prayer delivered by one of its five members. The prayers are “invariably and unmistakably Christian in content,” according to the ruling, and a review of recorded meetings showed that 97 percent of the invocations mentioned “Jesus,” “Christ” or the “Savior.” Prayers also occasionally implied Christianity was superior to other faiths, or proselytized by asking attendees to accept the Christian faith.

In a 10-5 ruling, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Rowan County’s practice violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment and exceeded the limits of Supreme Court-approved legislative prayer.

Prayers occasionally implied Christianity was superior to other faiths, or proselytized by asking attendees to accept the Christian faith.

The court ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, which had filed suit on behalf of non-Christian Rowan County residents who had called the prayers into question.

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