prayer

Rowan County Commissioners listen to a chaplain's prayer before a meeting in June 2017.
Rowan County

Lawyers for Rowan County on Thursday formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether it's legal for commissioners to lead prayer before their meetings.

Rowan County Commission Chair Greg Edds gave a lengthy argument for appealing the case.
Rowan County Commission

Rowan County Commissioners voted Monday to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on whether they should be allowed to say Christian prayers before meetings. The 5-0 vote came at a special session that lasted an hour and 45 minutes.

[Meanwhile, prayer returned at the start of the Charlotte City Council meeting last night. More below.]

Rowan County Commissioners listen to a chaplain's prayer before a meeting in June 2017.
Rowan County

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Rowan County’s practice of having elected officials open meetings with Christian prayer and asking residents to join is unconstitutional. That reverses a previous 2016 decision from the same circuit. 

Rowan County offices in Salisbury.
Rowan County

The First Amendment prohibits establishment of an official religion in the U.S.  When a government body steers too close to that, federal courts have stepped in to decide what's legal and what's not.  The federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, now is considering a case from Rowan County, northeast of Charlotte. At issue is whether county commissioners should be allowed to lead Christian prayers before their meetings. WFAE's David Boraks has been following the case, and talked with All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey.

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Lewis F. Powell Jr. Courthouse
Taber Andrew Bain from Richmond, VA, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A federal appeals court will decide whether it's legal for Rowan County's elected commissioners to lead Christian prayers at meetings. All 15 judges on the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case Wednesday in Richmond, Virginia.

A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., has agreed to re-hear a case on whether it's legal for Rowan County commissioners to deliver Christian prayers before their meetings. That invalidates a September ruling by a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that the practice was constitutional.

A federal appeals court says it's legal for Rowan County Commissioners to deliver prayers before their meetings. The decision out Monday reverses a lower court ruling that declared the practice unconstitutional.

Rowan County commissioners can no longer open public meetings with a prayer if it’s given by them. A federal court ruled the practice is discriminatory.

Federal Judge Hears Arguments On PrayerA federal judge in Winston-Salem hears arguments Thursday on sectarian prayers before meetings of Forsyth County commissioners. The county's attorneys want US District Judge James Beaty to drop a 2010 order that banned commissioners from having clergy deliver pre-meeting prayers that refer to Jesus Christ or other deities. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this year that a New York town’s inclusive policy did not violate the Constitution by allowing ministers to deliver Christian prayers at meetings. Forsyth County had used a similar practice before it was blocked by an earlier court order. The ACLU says the rules in Forsyth County allow only religious leaders from established local congregations to participate. They say that does not follow the Supreme Court ruling, which calls for all faiths and beliefs to be allowed to take part. 

Rowan County

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that opening prayers with references to Christianity during government meetings do not violate the U.S. Constitution.

This decision may impact a trial in Rowan County filed by residents who say they feel excluded when county commissioners open council meetings in the name of Jesus.

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