WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League praised a federal court decision banning sectarian prayers at a county commission’s meetings in North Carolina.
"This decision is a clear victory for religious freedom in North Carolina," the ADL, which had filed a friend-of-the-court brief, said Tuesday of the 2-1 decision July 29 by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Harvie Wilkinson, writing the majority opinion brought against Forsyth County, said "religious belief is so intimate and so central to our being, government advancement and effective endorsement of one faith carries a particular sting for citizens who hold devoutly to another."
Two county residents, Janet Joyner and Constance Lynn Blackmon, brought the suit against the county. Both are members of the Winston-Salem Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and they were represented by the national organization and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.
The prayers offered prior to the county commission’s meetings have included Christ. The county welcomed clergy from all faiths, but the ADL said in practice that 80 percent came from Christian denominations.