WESTMINSTER, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — A Carroll County commissioner said she was “willing to go to jail” opening up a board meeting with a prayer despite a federal judge in Maryland ruling the board has to stop with opening meetings with prayers that reference Jesus Christ or any specific deity.
“If we cease to believe that our rights come from God, we cease to be America,” Robin Bartlett Frazier said Thursday. “We’ve been told to be careful. But we’re going to be careful all the way to Communism if we don’t start standing up and saying ‘no.’”
Judge William Quarles Jr. ruled Wednesday that the board must stop opening up its meetings with sectarian prayers. He says that while a lawsuit over the prayers proceeds that the commission may only have non-sectarian prayers.
Frazier said the ruling was an “infringement” on her First Amendment rights.
Frazier led the board meeting with a prayer which she said was from George Washington, but a scholar stated the prayer did not come from the first president.
“It is … far too pious for Washington,” John Fea, chair of the History Department at Messiah College, told the Carroll County Times. “In fact, … George Washington only reference Jesus Christ twice in all his extant writings and neither of them were in a prayer. This commissioner was not praying the words of George Washington.”
The American Humanist Association complained about the prayers in 2012, sending a letter to the board on behalf of three Carroll County residents. The group later filed a lawsuit on the residents’ behalf when the prayers did not change.
Board President Commissioner Dave Roush said in a statement to the Times: “As constitutional officers of this county, while we disagree with the current 4th Circuit case law, we do respect the judge’s position in our American legal system. As commissioners who represent every citizen of Carroll County, we continue to respect the various faiths or non-faiths of all Carroll residents.”
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a similar case involving prayers. A decision is expected before the end of June.
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