Court examines prayers at meetings

Published 9:09 am Friday, January 29, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. — A federal appeals court is grappling with the constitutionality of prayers at local council meetings for the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar case in 2014.

Oral arguments were held Wednesday before a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the challenge of a North Carolina county commission’s practice of starting meetings with prayers that almost always referred to Christianity.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Rowan County Commission in 2013 on behalf of people who said the prayers were coercive and discriminatory.

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The Supreme Court recently upheld Christian prayers at local town council meetings in New York, but the ACLU said the latest case is different.

An attorney for the Commission said the “whole nation will be looking at this case.”