NC Christians Can Now Say “Jesus” After Supreme Court Strikes Down Censored Prayer Legislation

Reported by Nigel Boys

Encouraged by their victory in the U.S Supreme Court in Greece, New York this May, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) asked for the restrictions to be lifted on prayer being offered at public meetings in Forsyth County, North Carolina.

They were granted their desires this week when a federal district court ruled that no longer would the county be required to censor the way people pray at public meetings to make sure no particular religion was being held above all others. The victory means that people in Forsyth County will now be able to invoke the name of Jesus Christ during opening or closing prayers as they have done for generations.

Previously in 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State had won a victory over Forsyth County Commission when they sued on behalf of three individuals who were offended by prayers offered. Any reference to Christ, or any other sectarian God, should not be included in county prayers, they demanded.

The Supreme Court ruled in the opinion of Greece v. Galloway that it would be unconstitutional to limit people as to the way they prayed and to restrict legislative prayer addressed to a generic God only, was not a valid argument. It added that claims of prayer to a specific god being offensive are not legitimate because adult citizens should be firm enough in their own beliefs to be able to tolerate the prayers of someone from a different faith.

ADF Senior Counsel Brett Harvey said “All Americans should have the liberty to pray without being censored, just as the Supreme Court found only a few months ago, and we are delighted to see this freedom restored in Forsyth County.” He continued, “The Supreme Court affirmed the freedom of Americans to pray according to their consciences before public meetings. For that reason, the district court was right to lift its previous order against Forsyth County’s prayer policy, which is clearly constitutional.”

Forsyth County can now enjoy uncensored prayers at their forthcoming meeting, a thing they have been unable to do since the 4th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the U.S. District Court decision in the case of Joyner v. Forsyth County in 2011.