Federal Judge Stops Sectarian Prayers, County Official Invokes Jesus Christ Anyway

Yesterday Judge William D. Quarels, Jr. of the U.S. District Court of Maryland issued the preliminary injunction today to stop sectarian prayers held before meetings of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners. The American Humanist Association, on behalf of three Carroll County residents, alleged that the practice of permitting Commissioners to deliver prayers that reference Jesus Christ or Savior during county meetings violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

But this morning, as reported by the Carroll County Times, Carroll County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier brazenly defied the court order by opening the board of commissioners meeting, saying she was displeased with the court order and “willing to go to jail” to fight the ruling. She then embarked on a prayer referencing Jesus Christ, which she claims was given by George Washington.

“The commissioners’ actions are shocking, clearly disrespectful of the court and of the rule of law,” said Monica Miller, attorney for the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “If she or other commissioners continue to defy the court, we will have no choice but to seek a contempt order.”

Judge Quarels ruled that Carroll County officials are prohibited “from invoking the name of a specific deity associated with any specific faith or belief in prayers given at [Board] meetings” for the duration of the lawsuit. The Board may continue to give non-sectarian invocations at the beginning of meetings.

For more information, visit www.americanhumanist.org.