ACLU warns against sectarian prayers in legislature

Posted February 2, 2012

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation sent a letter to Attorney General Roy Cooper on Thursday to outline the group's concerns about sectarian prayers used to open sessions of the General Assembly.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of of Appeals that said sectarian prayers in a government setting violate the First Amendment's separation of church and state. The case originated from a lawsuit the ACLU filed against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.

The ACLU says several legislators and members of the community have expressed concern about the frequent practice of convening sessions of the House and Senate with a sectarian prayer.

“We recommend that you adopt a policy to ensure that the (General Assembly) halts the practice of opening sessions with sectarian invocations,” Katy Parker, state legal director of the ACLU, wrote in the letter to Cooper. "The (General Assembly) is still permitted to open its sessions with a prayer, so long as the prayer is nonsectarian.”

Until last year, lawmakers and staffers invited to give the opening prayers were scrupulous to avoid sectarian references. Now, however, prayers in both chambers often conclude with “in Jesus' name."


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  • Obama 2012 Feb 4, 2012

    The ACLU protects our rights. All of you criticizing them are fools.

  • Obama 2012 Feb 4, 2012

    People against the ACLU are foolish. They would fight to death to protect your right to speech, even if it is against everything they stand. The legislature has no right to practice religion during the public's time, that we the tax payers are paying for. There's a reason for separation of church and state.

  • deborahpernell Feb 4, 2012

    It is truely a sad time when you have a person or group of people that so badly want to leave their mark in life that they will do or say anything. This great country was founded on Biblical principles. Even our currency is stamped with the phrase, "In God We Trust". We are living in a time where crime is running rampid. I for one welcome prayer in our government sessions. I welcome and expect the men and women that I vote for to have God leading and guiding them in the decisions that they are making on my behalf. I truely believe that NC as a whole feels the same way. It is a small majority that comes against whats right, fair, and beneficial to our christian way of way of life. However, we lie silent, in a drunken stuper almost in hopes that someone else would be the voice of reason. ACLU shouts loud in hopes of being heard. If they can catch enough of us sleeping, lazy, or simply waiting on the next person to say something, they will slip their beliefs and ideas right past

  • ford8n1 Feb 3, 2012

    Personally I could not be happier if for some odd reason each and every ACLU headquarters burned down to the ground never to be rebuilt. This organization more than any others in my opinion have helped lead to the the demise and downfall of America as a Nation that was brought up on believing in a greater power and in the inner force that brought this nation to greatness. That greatness is now in its decline and in a sense is foretold by the rise/fall of the Roman Empire. We have reached our Zenith and now are in a spiral into that never never land of a 3rd world country. To a large part in my opinion the ACLU has had a large part to do with it. To me they are no better than the NAZI party of WWII or Stalin during those times. They have no heart nor any soul. Yep no heart nor soul. These are dark times indeed for America. And as we go on requests for contributions to that organization should be burned, shredded, or tossed down the toilet where they belong!!!!

  • davidallgood3 Feb 3, 2012

    So if we have are required to say a non-sectarian prayer (what ever that is) Are we not establishing a government religion. I think the first ammendment says that the government will not establish a religion. The words seperation of church and state do not appear in the constitution. Just a thought.

  • americaneel Feb 3, 2012

    Let's pray that the ACLU will go away...

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Feb 3, 2012

    NC needs all the prayers it can get.

  • htomc42 Feb 3, 2012

    I really fail to see how preventing government from excessively involving itself with what should be a private and personal matter, is in any way "anti-Christian". It's interesting how those many times the ACLU has defended religious groups is conveniently forgotten.

    Our "freedom" to religious belief doesn't mean that we can enlist the government to actively participate. Nobody is trying to stop any private person from praying anywhere and anyhow they like. (btw, I don't see the phrase "separation of powers" anywhere in the Constitution either. Does that mean it doesn't exist????)

  • bperryjr61 Feb 2, 2012

    why do people listen to the aclu, prayer has never hurt anything or anyone.please people if you have to keep something stirred up make some soup

  • thinkin out loud Feb 2, 2012

    Would someone, anyone, please help find the separation of church and state anywhere in the constitution much less the First Amendment. ACLU stands for Anti-Christian Liberal Union