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Update: County Official Defies Federal Court Prayer Order, American Humanist Association Issues Warning

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Maggie Ardiente at 202-238-9088 ext. 116
Monica Miller at 202-238-9088 ext. 120

(March 27, 2014)—A Carroll County official this morning brazenly defied a federal court order obtained by the American Humanist Association, invoking sectarian prayer despite a preliminary injunction issued yesterday forbidding such prayers. The American Humanist Association responded immediately this morning with a warning letter to county attorneys.

As reported by the Carroll County Times, Carroll County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier opened the board of commissioners meeting this morning by saying she was displeased with the court order, then embarked on a prayer referencing Jesus Christ.

“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 William D. Quarels, Jr. of the U.S. District Court of Maryland issued the preliminary injunction yesterday to stop sectarian prayers held before meetings of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners. 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.

The notice of contempt letter can be viewed here.

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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.