8/12/11: Prayer Ruling Headed for Supreme Court

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Members of a North Carolina county commission say they will appeal to the US Supreme Court a federal court ruling that prohibits Christian invocations before their commission meetings.

The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a split decision, upheld a lower court ruling that banned “sectarian” prayers at meetings of the Forsyth County Commission. The appeals court said that the county was “advancing and endorsing Christianity to the exclusion of other faiths.

The policy, like that of many local governments, is to invite ministers and clergy from area churches to offer invocations on a rotating basis. The court ruling stipulates that prayers can only be offered if they “favor no particular religion.” Judge Paul Niemeyer, who dissented from the decision, said his fellow judges were out of line.