Lord, stir the hearts of Your people to engage in these issues – may our freedom to pray and worship You be protected in every way.
The Rutherford Institute is urging the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm legislative prayers in Forsyth County, North Carolina, as constitutional.
The Board of Commissioners in Forsyth County has a practice of opening its twice-monthly meetings with prayers from various local clergy, but John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, tells OneNewsNow the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit to prohibit the prayers.
“We’re arguing that, especially since this [policy] is so broad — allowing basically anybody to pray — this is clearly constitutional,” he explains. “It’s very much a historic practice. The people who wrote the First Amendment, who put in the Establishment Clause — the clause that’s been interpreted as the so-called ‘separation of church and state’ clause — they allowed chaplains to pray. These are Christian chaplains.”
The ACLU’s complaint is that the majority of prayers are Christian, although that is reflective of the county’s population. But Whitehead argues that “as long as it’s open to other religious viewpoints, and anybody can participate in terms of their religion, it’s so broad that I think this is one case that should be constitutional.”
Even though a lower court ruled the county’s policy unconstitutional, the Rutherford Institute founder hopes the Supreme Court will hear this case and “finally put…to rest” the doctrine that says individuals cannot pray before a city council meeting.