AHA News |  

Christian Prayers at Carroll County Meetings Must End, Rules Federal Judge

For Immediate Release

Contact: Maggie Ardiente 202-238-9088 ext. 116 
Monica Miller 202-238-9003

(March 26, 2014)—In an important win for church-state separation, 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 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. The ruling can be viewed here

“When government officials frequently invoke Jesus or Savior in government meetings, they exploit the legislative prayer opportunity permitted by Marsh in violation of the Constitution,” said Monica Miller, attorney for the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Non-Christians, who are necessarily excluded by such sectarian Christian prayers, feel like religious outsiders and second-class citizens in their own community.”

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.

"This is a major victory for the separation of church and state," said David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. "Invocations at public meetings must not be sectarian, and that rule was clearly broken by the county here."

The American Humanist Association sent a letter to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners on March 7, 2012 on behalf of three Carroll County residents who complained about the prayers. When the Board’s prayer practice continued unchanged, the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit against Carroll County on May 1, 2013. The Court heard oral arguments on the motion for the preliminary injunction on January 10, 2014.

A similar case addressing legislative prayer is currently under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. A decision is expected in June in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway; oral arguments were heard on November 6, 2013.

# # #

Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

American Humanist Association

Christianity and Humanism compared. . .

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday everyone!!! More comics at: http://hmn.st/1wOZhEE

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

On June 19, 2014, Amanda Scott testified before the Mobile, Alabama, County Com...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

This is a 5-minute video of students and parents gathered on the football field...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Caption this photo taken at the 2014 World Humanist Congress in Oxford, England...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

This video shows how some religious people react to homosexuality. When you put...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

The newest issue of the Humanist Magazine is out! Take a look! Clay Farris Naff...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Jackson Public School District has agreed to cease including religious activ...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Dave Niose, Legal Director of the AHLC, has been featured on CBS46 in Atlanta, G...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Humanist Hour Podcast #113 out now! Jeremy Chappell talks about the “spiritu...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

This morning, the American Humanist Association issued a press release regarding...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Why are some of the poorest regions in America also the most religious? A new st...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Listen up D.C., Maryland, and Virginia Humanists! Want to meet local free-thinke...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

While vandalism may not be the technique I would use to express my views, some...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

In his new Huffington Post article, Roy Speckhardt discusses prejudice and the k...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Sonja Eggerickx, president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

We just got a nice donation from the AmazonSmile Foundation thanks to people lik...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association stands up for the rights of teachers of minori...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA Legislative Associate Matthew Bulger responds to some recent comments by U.S...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

We need more nontheistic politicians in the United States!

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday!! Here is a wonderful poem from Dan Moran. Check It Out!

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Well, I am not so sure how common this dilemma is, but it is interesting anyway!

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hooray! Florida's same-sex marriage ban struck down! Check it out! http://hmn.s...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

New evidence supporting the theory of evolution has been found in parasite ants...

10 days ago