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Critics Want Md. Town Meeting Prayer Ban Reinstated


WASHINGTON -- One day after the Supreme Court gave the green light to Christian prayers at public meetings, the ruling is being challenged in at least one municipality in Maryland.

On Tuesday morning, opponents of opening Carroll County board meetings with prayers in Jesus' name filed a new motion asking a federal judge to reinstate a temporary ban on the practice.

A preliminary injunction prohibiting those prayers went into effect in March but was lifted within hours of Monday's high court ruling.

However, the American Humanist Association, which represents the suburban Maryland residents, believes the court's opinion in the city of Greece, New York, is fundamentally different from the county case.

In the city of Greece, citizens and local clergy were invited to pray, but in Carroll County, Maryland, government officials offer prayers on a rotating basis.

Maryland District Judge William D. Quarles issued a temporary injunction on March 25, following a ruling from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that sectarian prayers in Greece, New York, were unconstitutional.

Quarles' ruling barred the Maryland commissioners from using the name of any deities associated with a specific faith. In the case of Carroll County, the five-member board - comprised solely of Christians - was no longer allowed to mention the name of Jesus.

Now opponents are asking the court to reissue Judge Quarles' original injunction.

Some residents who support the commissioners describe the lawsuit as Christian discrimination.

But the American Humanist Association told CBN News it rejects that notion, noting one of its plaintiffs is a practicing Catholic.

"This isn't about atheism being pushed down someone's throat," AHA attorney Monica Miller said. "This is about being inclusive to everyone including Christians."

Jordan Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice, has a different take. He believes the Supreme Court ruling is a landmark decision on sectarian prayers.

"The idea that nonsectarian prayer in the United States, the Supreme Court ... said it's basically ridiculous." Sekulow explained in an interview with CBN News. "If the government opens itself up to religious exercise at all, it has to take everything that comes with it. So this idea that we're going to have prayer, but we can't have sectarian prayer is now out the door."

Sekulow also told CBN News the ruling will likely impact other cases and reaffirm the right of the military, Congress, and state legislatures to employ chaplains from various faith groups.

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