Thursday, April 03, 2014

Contempt Motion Filed Against County Commission For Christian Prayers

The American Humanist Association announced that yesterday it filed a contempt of court motion (full text) against members of the Carroll County, Maryland Board of Commissioners for violating a court order (see prior posting) barring them from using specific Christian references in Council invocations.  One day after the entry of the injunction, Council member Robin Frazier delivered an explicitly Christian invocation and expressed objections to the court order. Then on Tuesday, the Board invited Bruce Holstein (reportedly the campaign manager of one of the Commissioners) to speak. He read a statement and offered a prayer harshly critical of the judge's decision, saying in part:
The judge may have prevented you commissioners from praying to Jesus Christ, but I want you to know that we, the citizens of Carroll County, are not gonna stand for it.
We are overruling Judge Quarles’ objection by offering this prayer on your behalf: Heavenly father, I stand here this morning and ask your blessing on our five county commissioners.... They have received a court Order from a misguided judge who forbids them from praying in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. This Order discriminates against Christians and is a gross violation of our commissioners’ First Amendment Constitutional rights. Therefore I ask you to bless their proceedings today and bless the case about Christian prayer before the Supreme Court and I ask for these blessings in Jesus’ name. Amen.
While the court's injunction ran against the Board members, plaintiff in its Memorandum of Law (full text) argues that it also bars the prayer delivered by Holstein:
There is no question the Defendants had the authority to stop this person from delivering a prayer at their Board meeting. They also had the ability clarify to the public, after the prayer was delivered, that it was not endorsed or supported by the Board.
The full text of the statements and prayers by both Commr. Frazier and Mr. Holstein are included in the Memorandum of Law.