On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars


Federal court bans “Jesus” from public prayers

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.

“Legislative prayer must strive to be nondenominational so long as that is reasonably possible — it should send a signal of welcome rather than exclusion. It should not reject the tenets of other faiths in favor of just one,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in his ruling.

Judge Paul Niemeyer disagreed, writing in his dissent that Forsyth County allowed believers of any religious faith to give the opening prayer, negating the effect of having a prayer champion only one set of beliefs.

“I respectfully submit that we must maintain a sacred respect of each religion, and when a group of citizens comes together, as does the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, and manifests that sacred respect — allowing the prayers of each to be spoken in the religion’s own voice — we must be glad to let it be,” Niemeyer wrote.

“The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State argued (naturally) that sectarian prayers to any deity violate the First Amendment,” observed the Christian advocacy group Vision to America, which also noted:

The First Amendment offers no such prohibition since it only restricts “Congress” from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .” There is no prohibition directed at the states and their counties. In fact, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution at the insistent of the states in order to protect them from federal encroachment. Both the language of the First Amendment and example of the state constitutions support this claim.

Article XIX of North Carolina’s 1776 Constitution reads, “All men have a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.” Article XXXII is specifically Christian in stating the following qualifications for public officers in the state: “No person who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.”



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petunia

posted August 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm


I will forever pray IN JESUS’ NAME, no matter what the goverment says or does. I stand by a Higher Authority!!



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Alden G

posted August 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm


This is one Catholic that will never quit using His Name in praise and thanksgiving!! .. So … to the courts … do your damnest!! In the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ ..



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Kate

posted August 7, 2011 at 10:08 am


They did this JUST for TWO county residents who had their knickers in a bunch?
Man, favoritism these days…
If you get so terribly, mortally offended by the mention of religious beliefs, perhaps you should just avoid the places those beliefs are mentioned, instead of getting all butthurt about it and dragging the court system into your petty personal battle. If someone offers a prayer that the start of the meeting, you’re free to get up and walk out of the room until the prayer is over. It’s not like you’re being strapped into your seat and having holy water thrown in your face.

It’s like being offended that you’re in the cafeteria the day they serve spaghetti, because you like meatloaf. If you don’t like the offerings, get up and leave.

Some people need to take off the diapers and grow up.
What’s going to be next, outlawing bananas because one county resident’s religion prohibits bananas?

America’s court system is well and truly broken, if this sort of thing is what they spend their time on.



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Alden G

posted August 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm


No matter what men in black robes say – I live in Hope that Our Lord, Jesus Christ, calls my name at the moment of my death. In this I pray In Jesus Name. Amen



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DC

posted August 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm


It is completely inappropriate to have a prayer to Jesus in any government setting. The government represents all the people, all the time. Anyone who wishes to pray to Jesus, Mary, Vishnu, or the flying spaghetti monster may do so at any time, privately. They may do so publicly as long as it does not associate a government entity with a particular religion. There are many countries that do not separate government and religion and anyone who does not approve of the US Constitution is welcome to move there and see how they like it.



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Brian Westley

posted August 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm


“They did this JUST for TWO county residents who had their knickers in a bunch?
Man, favoritism these days…”

Yeah, it’s almost like EVERYBODY has constitutional rights (even just two people!), instead of just the Christians!



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Quentin Riha

posted August 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm


SSend all these unbelievers to China where they don’t believe in God neither!



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sheeva

posted August 24, 2011 at 11:07 am


These are the very reason why America is fast degenerating as a nation and people. Taking out Jesus in their midst is like opening the gates of hell and allowing instead the demons to get hold of their lives. I hope and pray the God loving God fearing Americans wont allow this Godlessness to prevail.



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Delores Conner

posted September 9, 2011 at 9:49 am


Dear God, bless all those trying to take You out of my life. I will always believe in You and pray whenever I need to. In Jesus name I pray Amen. God Bless America



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