ADF Attorneys Defend North Carolina Public Officials Whose Prayer Policies Are Under Siege
For five years, members of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners have been under legal attack from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – the number one religious censor in America – and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU). Both object to the Commissioners’ custom of allowing “sectarian” prayer to open public meetings … even though the person offering the invocation has always been allowed to do so in keeping with his own faith, whatever that may be.
Not good enough, say attorneys for the ACLU and Americans United, who represent three people who claim offense at the mere mention of “Jesus” or “Christ.” The Commissioners, they insist, must desist from allowing public prayer in those names. As federal judge, Paul V. Niemeyer, strongly dissenting from adverse lower court rulings says, “the [other judges have] dared to step in and regulate the language of prayer.”
On October 27, Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking them to review the case, pointing out that the decision is in conflict with other federal court decisions (since 2008, five federal courts have upheld similar invocation policies as constitutional, the most recent in California on July 11) and out of step with the history of invocations in America.
“America’s founders opened public meetings with prayer; this county simply wants to allow its citizens to do the same,” says ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “We trust the U.S. Supreme Court will want to review this case because of the long history in America of offering prayers before public meetings. Public officials shouldn’t be coerced into censoring the prayers of those invited to offer them just because secularist groups don’t like people praying according to their own conscience.”
“Censorship is what the ACLU and AU are advocating,” said ADF-allied attorney and co-counsel Mike Johnson, who argued the case before the 4th Circuit and is currently dean of Louisiana College’s Pressler School of Law. “They don’t want private citizens invited by the county board to express themselves according to the dictates of their consciences.”
Bryce D. Neier and David Gibbs, two of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance, are also co-counsel in the case.
Please be in prayer for these attorneys, and for this very important case, that it will be accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that a crucial precedent will be established that affirms and protects religious freedom – and the right to pray in Jesus’ name – in the public square.
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