Religious News and Notes from the Distaff Side- 3/27/2017 -Prayers by Elected Officials from dais
27 March 2017 at 6:06:20 PM
Update on the Rowan county prayer lawsuit in which Rowan County commissioners lead prayer from the dais. That was last Wednesday. Somervell County Commissioners Court is doing much the same thing, it's unconstitutional prayer.
The suit — Lund V. Rowan County — is scheduled for oral arguments on Wednesday in front of all 15 judges for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, known as a rehearing en banc. More than a year ago, a three-judge panel listened to oral arguments in the suit. That panel, by a 2-1 vote, found county commissioners’ prayer practices were constitutional from 2007 to 2013.
On behalf of three Rowan County residents, the North Carolina ACLU last year asked for and received a rehearing en banc.
Daily arguments are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the 4th Circuit Court in Richmond, Va.
The case centers on whether Rowan County commissioners can offer sectarian prayers at the start of meetings. Specific questions raised over the course of the case include: whether commissioners’ prayer practices disparaged or coerced attendees to participate, whom the prayers were intended for, whether there is a historical precedent for what occurred at commissioners meetings and if elected officials can deliver invocations that are overwhelmingly Christian in nature.
The full 15-judge panel of the Richmond-based court is examining the case after a divided three-judge panel ruled last year that the practice was constitutional as long as commissioners don't pressure others to participate.
The three-judge panel reversed a lower court decision siding with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of non-Christians who say the prayers made them feel excluded and sent the message that the board favored a particular religion.
"The broader issue here is whether we believe that you should be able to fully participate in the most direct form of governing ... without having religious beliefs pressed on you by your elected officials," said Chris Brook, an attorney for the ACLU of North Carolina, told reporters after the hearing.
Here's the latest Somervell County Commisssioners Court prayer from March 13, 2017, led, again, by Larry Hulsey.