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Court to weigh practice of Christian prayers at meetings

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court is poised to examine whether county commissioners in North Carolina should be allowed to open their meetings with Christian prayers.

Wednesday’s arguments before a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals will be the first time a federal appeals court considers government prayer practices since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014 upheld Christian prayers at local town council meetings in New York.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Rowan County Commission in 2013 on behalf of three people who said the practice of starting meetings with prayers that almost always referred to Christianity was coercive and discriminatory.

A federal court sided with the ACLU in May, saying the prayers violated the Constitution’s ban on mixing church and state.

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