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North Carolina’s Forsyth County Board of Commissioners was wrong to allow opening prayers that end “in Jesus’ name,” a federal appeals court has ruled.

In a 2-1 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., has ruled in favor of two county residents who complained that they were offended at hearing “in Jesus’ name” in a public prayer. 

Janet Joyner and Constance Blackmon sued after a local religious leader offered a prayer before a December 2007 commission meeting. In that prayer, he thanked God for allowing the birth of His son to forgive us for our sins and closed with the standard “in Jesus’ name,” which Christians are taught to do in the Gospel of John 14:13-14 by Jesus himself.

The federal decision upholds a lower court ruling.

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