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Winston-Salem Journal: The group now known as the Alliance Defending Freedom crafted that policy several years ago, then Davida Martin updated it to include Beaty’s suggested clarifications.
NC City forced to remove ‘Christian’ praying soldier veterans’ memorial; unable to pay $2 million to battle secular group
The Christian Post: “The Supreme Court affirmed the freedom of Americans to pray according to their consciences before public meetings,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Brett Harvey said in a press release. “For that reason, the district court was right to lift its previous order against Forsyth County’s prayer policy.”
Religious Freedom Coalition: In Forsyth County, NC, the courts have reaffirmed the God-given rights of residents to pray in Jesus’ name at public meetings due to the lifting of a federal court order on Thursday. In contradiction to our rich history of prayer and faith, the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a lawsuit in 2007 in that challenged the county’s freedom to allow opening invocations by volunteers who wish to pray according to the dictates of their own consciences. This sets a precedent that could be good news for proponents of prayer in similar cases across the country.
The Global Dispatch: being censored, just as the Supreme Court found only a few months ago, and we are delighted to see this freedom restored in Forsyth County,” said ADF Senior Counsel Brett Harvey.
My Fox 8: Kaplan said he did not have a problem with the way the board invited people to pray when he joined the board years ago, but he did not like the formal written policy, which he said was crafted by the Alliance Defense Fund, now the Alliance Defending Freedom. That is the group that represented Forsyth County in the prayer case.
Daily Caller: “The Supreme Court affirmed the freedom of Americans to pray according to their consciences before public meetings,” ADF Senior Counsel Brett Harvey said in a press release. “For that reason, the district court was right to lift its previous order against Forsyth County’s prayer policy, which is clearly constitutional.”
Winston-Salem Journal: Brett Harvey, attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, which assisted Forsyth County, argued the county’s policy is inclusive and that the county is not required to reach out to every possible religious organization. He also said that nonbelievers are not excluded from the policy. He also argued that the injunction was specifically to prohibit the county from allowing sectarian prayer.
The Blaze: “All Americans should have the liberty to pray without being censored, just as the Supreme Court found only a few months ago, and we are delighted to see this freedom restored in Forsyth County,” attorney Brett Harvey said in a statement. “The Supreme Court affirmed the freedom of Americans to pray according to their consciences before public meetings.”
MyFox8 (Winston-Salem Journal): Chris Brook of the ACLU for North Carolina, who represented the plaintiffs, argued that Forsyth County’s policy was discriminatory and that the county is only entitled to a modification of the injunction. Attorneys for Forsyth County and the Alliance Defending Freedom, the group assisting Forsyth County, argued this morning that the county’s policy is proactively inclusive and that the injunction should be lifted.
ADF Media: A federal district court lifted its order against the prayer policy of Forsyth County, N.C., Thursday in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision affirming prayer before public meetings in Town of Greece v. Galloway.
WUNC: Brett Harvey of the Alliance Defending Freedom will argue the case on behalf of Forsyth County. He says their prayer policy is already inclusive. Harvey wants the injunction lifted without requiring policy changes.
ADF Media: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Brett Harvey will be available for media interviews following a hearing Thursday over whether a federal district court should lift its order against the prayer policy of Forsyth County, N.C., in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision affirming prayer before public meetings in Town of Greece v. Galloway.
My Fox 8 (Winston-Salem Journal): Brett Harvey, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said it is not surprising that the court set a hearing, and he said he thinks it indicates that the judge is interested in hearing more fully how the recent ruling affects his court order.
Winston-Salem Journal: The parties are now waiting for U.S. District Court Judge James A. Beaty Jr. to act. He could make a determination based on the briefs or could schedule a hearing, said Brett Harvey, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom. “What happens next is in the hands of the judge,” Harvey said.
Democrat & Chronicle: The rules mirror a model policy from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization that represented the town in the Supreme Court case. Brett Harvey, the group’s senior counsel, said allowing anyone to speak “made sense when the town had a manageable number of people making a request.” Now Greece needed a neutral way to select speakers, he said.
Winston-Salem Journal: Brett Harvey, senior counsel with the Alliance, said Tuesday that counsel would file a reply in the next few weeks. He said courts had already recognized that the county’s policy was inclusive, and that it was the content of the prayers that they had found problematic.
Alliance Defending Freedom: After winning a lawsuit last month at the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of prayers before public meetings, Alliance Defending Freedom is now asking a federal district court to lift its order against the prayer policy of Forsyth County, N.C. The order requires the county to censor the way people pray to ensure only generic prayers are offered at public meetings.
Rev. Mark H. Creech at Christian Post: Since the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Joyner v. Forsyth County that prayers offered in Jesus’ name are unconstitutional and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal, some 25 to 30 government bodies across North Carolina have been in the cross hairs of groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Humanist Association. They demand that any sectarian prayers cease and desist.
Sun Journal: None of the public members used their allotted time to pray; however, several suggested the county look to the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization, to deal with any legal action the ACLU takes. The Alliance Defense Fund, which reportedly offered free legal services to Forsyth County, said it would not pay any legal fees awarded to the plaintiffs if the county lost.
Sun Journal: Craven County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lee K. Allen began Monday’s meeting with a public prayer. It may have been followed by a silent prayer that the county won’t be sued over it.
Sun Journal: “I have been advised for a long time, not recently, not the last six months but for a long time, that it was recommended that if we were going to do a public prayer, that it needed to be, for the lack of a better term, a generic prayer,” Sanders said Tuesday after the meeting. “I’ve always had a problem with that. That’s just not the normal way for Christians to pray.
Salisbury Post: The Alliance Defense Fund, a national group focused on religious freedom, defended the county. Now that Forsyth has lost the case and is responsible for the ACLU’s legal bill of about $200,000, a citizens group that formed to help defend the county — the N.C. Partnership for Religious Liberty — will pay the bill. • Another fight? The Alliance Defense Fund suggested an alternative policy for the board . . .
Charlotte Observer: So far, at least 15 government bodies have agreed to change their policies after being contacted by the organization, state ACLU spokesman Mike Meno said.
David Whisenant at Salisbury.WBTV.com: I have never heard a prayer delivered by any commissioner that could be considered a violation of the establishment clause. One simple prayer at the beginning of a meeting cannot be viewed as religious establishment by any rational, reasonable person
ABP: The same month the high court refused to hear an appeal from the Forsyth County, North Carolina, board of commissioners of a lower court’s ruling to end deity-specific, sectarian-oriented prayers at meetings. The case stemmed from a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. While ministers of all faiths were encouraged to volunteer for the occasion, the Christian majority dominated, often ending prayers in “Jesus’ name.” ACLU lawyers said that showed government favoritism toward one religion over others. Opponents, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, called the lawsuit a denial of religious liberty to those who pray from their specific traditions.
Havelock News: “It’s amazing to me that by virtue of being elected to this office, my speech is being restricted,” Commissioner Jeff Taylor said.
UPI.com: The U.S. Supreme Court last week passed up the chance to decide whether opening up a public meeting with a sectarian prayer, usually invoking the name of Jesus — a practice carried out in broad swaths of Red State America — is constitutional.
ADF Attorneys Brett Harvey and Dave Cortman at the Washington Examiner: Therefore, the core question remains unanswered: Must the government force prayer-givers to avoid the name of Jesus (or other specific deity names) when they pray before legislative meetings? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said yes, but the rest of the country still says no. That conflict means the Supreme Court may yet weigh in on the question.
The New American: “No federal court has ruled that prayers cannot be offered before public meetings,” said attorney David Cortman of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the conservative legal advocacy group that represented the county in the case. He added, however, that the Supreme Court had “missed an opportunity to clear up the differing opinions among the various circuits about the content of the prayers. This means that, for the time being, the standard for prayer policies in the 4th Circuit will be different from the standard held by the rest of the country.”
ADF Attorney David Cortman appeared on the Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hosanna Tabor (ministerial exception for Christian school teachers) and its refusal to hear Forsyth County (sectarian legislative prayer). | MP3 audio 7:10 mins
Winston-Salem Journal Editorial: The Supreme Court rightly declines to hear prayer-fight appeal, ending a losing battle
Winston-Salem Journal: But the county insisted on fighting on through the legal representation of the Alliance Defense Fund, a right-wing Christian organization. The ADF advanced the case for free, but if the county had lost, it would have been liable for paying the victor’s costs. A local group had raised money for that, but there was no guarantee it could meet all the costs.
Winston-Salem Journal: On a vote that splits the county board 4-3 on party lines, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners accepts an offer from the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian group, to defend the county for free.
Fox 8 (video included): David Cortman with the Alliance Defense Fund, which helped defend the county in the case, said a non-sectarian prayer is no prayer at all. “This was open to anyone to pray according to their own beliefs. It didn’t exclude any religion at all,” Cortman said.
Baptist Press: But David Cortman, an attorney representing Forsyth County, said the ruling makes Christians second-class citizens. “That’s what this case shows,” said Cortman, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund. “We believe the Supreme Court has missed an opportunity to clear up the differing opinions among the various circuit courts. It really is disappointing.” [more]
FRC Washington Update: he Supreme Court giveth, and the Supreme Court taketh away. Just days after handing down one of the biggest victories for religious freedom in a half-century, the justices are back to ignoring the principles they upheld
The U.S. Supreme Court declined Tuesday to clear up conflicting positions among various appellate courts regarding the historical practice of offering prayers at public meetings according to the faith of the prayer-giver.
Ken Klukowski: Shocker! Supreme Court lets stand lower bench’s ban on saying ‘Jesus’ too often in public prayers | Washington Examiner
Ken Klukowski at the Washington Examiner: David Cortman, ADF’s lead counsel said, “we are obviously disappointed that the Supreme Court did not agree to hear our case on behalf of the Forsyth County Commissioners and the local community. “We continue to believe that the lower court’s decision requiring public officials to censor the prayers of private citizens is inconsistent with historical practice and constitutional requirements. ADF will continue to defend legislative prayer throughout the country until the Supreme Courts hears a case that clears up the confusion.”
JournalNow.com: “I’m surprised and disappointed,” said Mike Johnson, the ADF attorney who argued Forsyth County’s case before the courts. “We really were expecting that the court would want to take a look at the case. I think that this leaves a very important constitutional law issue essentially unresolved. We believe that sometime soon, the Supreme Court will have to hear one of these cases to resolve the issue.”
Winston Salem-Journal: The county, backed by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian group, appealed the ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A local group, the N.C. Partnership for Religious Liberty, pledged $300,000 towards any legal fees the county would pay if it lost the case.
Fox News (includes video): The Alliance Defense Fund is representing the county for free in this case. ADF Attorney Mike Johnson said the organization believes it has a good chance to get the appeal heard. “What we have here is a split between the various appellate circuits. It’s a direct split between the 4th circuit and the 11th circuit. When something like that happens, it makes it right for the Supreme Court to take a look at it,” Johnson said.
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty: “This is a big issue now,” [ADF attorney Mike] Johnson said of the prayer debate. “It is a bigger one nationwide. The court needs to clear up confusion.” … The county argues in its latest brief, as it did previously, that different circuit courts have ruled differently in cases with similar facts. For instance, the appeals court for the 11th Circuit, which covers Georgia, ruled that sectarian references in the prayers of randomly invited clergy didn’t constitute a government endorsement of religion.
Wisconsin Salem-Journal (12/28): Mike Johnson, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund which is representing Forsyth County, said he has heard that the justices may discuss in January what cases to take . . . “This is a big issue now,” Johnson said of the prayer debate. “It is a bigger one nationwide. The court needs to clear up confusion.”
JournalNow.com: Mike Johnson of Shreveport, La., an attorney working with the ADF, said the argument of the ACLU and Americans United downplays the importance of other lower-court rulings on this issue. “They have misrepresented the facts,” Johnson said. “This is an important constitutional legal question, which is the permissibility of sectarian prayer.”
Dave Cortman on the Hugh Hewitt Show: Shall we pray? Will a few atheists interrupt centuries of tradition?
JournalNow.com: The lawyers from a right-wing Christian organization that Forsyth commissioners chose for their wrongheaded and potentially costly fight for prayer at their meetings have filed to have the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. On the chance that the highest court in the land does choose to hear this case, we’ll have a good thought that the Constitution will prevail and the commissioners will finally have to give up this battle that would, in effect, give their government body the right to push Christianity on all.
ADF President and General Counsel Alan E. Sears at the TellADF Blog: For five years, members of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners have been under legal attack from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – the number one religious censor in America – and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU). Both object to the Commissioners’ custom of allowing “sectarian” prayer to open public meetings … even though the person offering the invocation has always been allowed to do so in keeping with his own faith, whatever that may be.
The New American: On October 27 the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the conservative legal advocacy group representing the county, filed a petition with the High Court asking it to overturn the Fourth Circuit ruling and once again “approve the historical practice of allowing citizens to offer prayers at public meetings according to the faith of the prayer-giver,” according to an ADF press release. “America’s founders opened public meetings with prayer,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “This county simply wants to allow its citizens to do the same. We trust the U.S. Supreme Court will want to review this case because of the long history in America of offering prayers before public meetings.”
Christian Post: “We’re confident the court will take a real interest in this case, and that opinion, I think, is shared by constitutional law scholars and litigators around the country,” Mike Johnson, a lawyer of Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal organization representing county commissioners, said Friday.
WorldNetDaily: But the board disagrees, and with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund is asking the Supreme Court to trump Wilkinson’s ruling. “America’s founders opened public meetings with prayer; this county simply wants to allow its citizens to do the same,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman in a statement. “We trust the U.S. Supreme Court will want to review this case because of the long history in America of offering prayers before public meetings. Public officials shouldn’t be coerced into censoring the prayers of those invited to offer them just because secularist groups don’t like people praying according to their own conscience.”
WXII The Triad: “We’re confident the court will take a real interest in this case, and that opinion, I think, is shared by constitutional law scholars and litigators around the country. There are many people watching this one closely,” said Alliance Defense Fund lawyer Mike Johnson.
CBN.com: The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the county, said the High Court should decide whether public bodies are required to find out in advance what will be said in prayers that precede their meetings.
WXII The Triad: Lawyers for the Alliance Defense Fund Inc. filed the request for Supreme Court review on Thursday.
The Republic (AP): The ruling “imposes an unwieldy requirement that government police the language of prayers,” ADF lawyers said in their appeal. “Does the Constitution require the government to censor prayer content to exclude sectarian references?”
JournalNow.com: Mike Johnson, an attorney working with the Allied Defense Fund who argued the case before the 4th Circuit, said the ACLU and Americans United were advocating “censorship.” “They don’t want private citizens invited by the board to express themselves according to the dictates of their consciences,” Johnson said.
ADF Attorney Brett Harvey at Speak Up Movement Church Blog: In a remarkable 2-1 split decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which presides over the four states of the Carolina’s and the Virginias) invalidated the policy of Forsyth County, NC that allowed prayers to be offered before meetings of the County Council. The court acknowledged that the county policy was “neutral and proactively inclusive.” However, it was struck down because the court found that too many “sectarian” references would make people feel uncomfortable.
ADF President and General Counsel Alan E. Sears appeared on the Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. | MP3 audio 8:38 mins | ADF Media Resources: Bronx Household, Alpha Delta Chi, Utah Highway Patrol, Forsyth Co.
ENCToday: The council wanted to wait to revert to praying aloud after seeing whether the U.S. Supreme Court would rule in favor of an appeal entered by The Alliance Defense Fund — the public interest law firm that is leading Forsyth County’s defense.
Brett Harvey at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: The majority opinion decided that legislative prayer is about “acknowledging the ways in which it can bring together citizens of all backgrounds and encourage them to participate in the workings of their government.”
Mike Johnson on Today’s Issues with Tim Wildmon and Tony Perkins: “Court: Prayers unconstitutional if they are in the name of Jesus”
ADF Attorney Brett Harvey at Speak Up Movement Church Blog: In a series of short blogs I will explore some of the troubling aspects of the decision in Joyner v. Forsyth County, NC decided on July 29, 2011.
Speak Up Movement Church Blog: In a remarkable 2-1 split decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which presides over the four states of the Carolina’s and the Virginias) invalidated the policy of Forsyth County, NC that allowed prayers to be offered before meetings of the County Council. The court acknowledged that the county policy was “neutral and proactively inclusive.” However, it was struck down because the court found that the references to Jesus in the prayers offered by private citizens were too “frequent.”
Speak Up Movement Church Blog: However, the court’s view of the Constitution places new limits on how a private citizen can pray finding that public invocations cannot have “sectarian references” that are too “frequent.” . . . In a series of short blogs I will explore some of the troubling aspects of the decision in Joyner v. Forsyth County, NC decided on July 29, 2011.
The Commercial Appeal: Thankfully, the board of commissioners in Winston-Salem, N.C., represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, has decided to stand up to bullies like the FFRF. It voted 6-1 to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision regarding prayer at public meetings.
BlueRidgeNow.com: The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina has put jurisdictions such as Henderson County on notice that they are breaking the law if their practice of sectarian prayer before government meetings continues.
Brett Harvey on Family Policy Matters with Bill Brooks: The ongoing prayer litigation in Forsyth County, NC
Jacksonville Daily News: Commissioners called on County Manager Jeff Hudson to give the invocation during the regular meeting, as he had during the Aug. 1 meeting, but referencing a recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling over the issue of invocational prayer, Hudson refused to give an invocation. County Attorney Lesley Moxley in a two-page memorandum informed commissioners Monday afternoon about the Court of Appeals ruling in Joyner, et al. v. Forsyth County, N.C. . . .
JournalNow.com: So what is he doing supporting, in effect, the work of the Alliance Defense Fund, which also fights against abortion and same-sex marriage? He’s not wild about the group, he indicated, but he believes in prayer to start the meetings.
ADF attorney Brett Harvey and ADF Allied Attorney Mike Johnson at Winston Salem-Journal (8/8): The government has no business telling people how and to whom they should pray. The U.S. Constitution protects the right of individuals to pray consistent with their conscience and faith tradition. When the government tells citizens what is or isn’t acceptable to say in a prayer, it runs counter to the First Amendment, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”