The American Civil Liberties Union N.C. Legal Foundation is making good on its promise to stop the state General Assembly from saying predominately Christian prayers at the opening of every day’s session.
The ACLU today sent a letter to Attorney General Roy Cooper asking him to come up with a policy that would prevent it.
The civil rights organization said last month that it would be contacting local and state government throughout North Carolina, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to review an appellate ruling involving Forsyth County’s Board of Commissioners. In that case, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that sectarian prayer in a government setting was a violation of the First Amendment.
As a result, the ACLU is advising Cooper that the House and Senate practice of praying in the Christian religion a significant majority of the time runs afoul of the court decision. Its letter quotes the court’s ruling that “faith is as deeply important as it is deeply personal, and the government should not appear to suggest that some faiths have got it wrong and others got it right.”
The ACLU also points out that the appellate court ruling requires government take an active role in diversifying prayers and not just allow “all-comers;” otherwise, the faith of the majority would necessarily predominate. The ACLU says nonsectarian prayers are permitted.
UPDATE: Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, says: "We will share the letter when we receive it with the General Assembly leadership so that legislators are aware of the ACLU's concerns."