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Tag Archives: Forsyth County

Forsyth County’s pre-meeting prayers unconstitutionally divisive  

A divided three-judge panel of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that prayers at Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meetings that mention Jesus and other tenets of Christianity violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. “Sectarian prayer is unconstitutional,” said Katherine Lewis Parker of the American Civil Liberties Union of N.C., who represented plaintiffs Janet Joyner and Constance Lynn Blackmon in their suit against the county. “This serves as a reminder of what the law is. Local and state governments that are violating the law will have to come into compliance,” Parker said.

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Forsyth County hopes that 4th Circuit is answer to prayers

The legal battle, in which the county lost its first two skirmishes, renewed May 12 with oral arguments in front of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court in Richmond, Va. The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners invites local clergy to open meetings with a sectarian prayer. But in 2007, Forsyth County residents Janet Joyner and Constance Blackmon filed a federal lawsuit claiming the Board of Commissioners' policy of inviting local clergy members to give invocations at the start of the board's twice-monthly meetings violated the First Amendment's separation of church and state doctrine.

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