AHA Files Contempt Motion in Prayer Case

The American Humanist Association has filed a contempt motion against the Carroll County, MD Board of Commissioners after they explicitly defied a federal court injunction for a second time. I already wrote about the commissioner who read a fake George Washington prayer after the injunction was issued, but then they brought in someone else to say a prayer that intentionally defied the court order.

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.

The AHA issued this statement:

Yesterday, the Board of Commissioners opened their meeting with a non-sectarian prayer, but then invited another speaker, Bruce Holstein, reportedly the campaign manager of one of the commissioners, to speak. He read a statement that was harshly critical of the court order, even saying that he was “overruling” the federal court, then ended his speech with a prayer that expressly referenced Jesus Christ. At no time did the commissioners interrupt or attempt to stop Mr. Holstein’s speech and prayer.

Yesterday’s prayer comes just a few days after one of the commissioners, Robin Frazier, opened a board meeting by expressing objections to the judge’s order and saying a Christian prayer in defiance of the court order.

“We regret this action had to be taken, but the commissioners have now broken the law twice,” said Monica Miller, attorney for the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “We thought Commissioner Frazier’s recitation of a sectarian prayer was a one-time incident. It’s now clear that she and the other Carroll County commissioners insist on continuing the practice of sectarian prayers at board meeting regardless of the court order.”

Judge William D. Quarels, Jr. of the U.S. District Court of Maryland issued the preliminary injunction on March 26 which prohibited Carroll County officials “from invoking the name of a specific deity associated with any specific faith or belief in prayers given at [Board] meetings” for the duration of the lawsuit.

They’re clearly auditioning for the role of the poor persecuted martyr. I say we give them that role.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Michael Heath

    Heavenly father, I stand here this morning and ask your blessing on our five county commissioners. . .

    I can’t find Heaven on either Google Maps or Apple’s Maps. What’s up with that?!!?

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … the preliminary injunction on March 26 which prohibited Carroll County officials “from invoking the name of a specific deity …

    But Jesus isn’t any specific deity – he’s all three of them!

  • D. C. Sessions

    Judges have remarkable powers when the subject comes to direct willful contempt. IIRC it was another case in Maryland where the Court ordered a small fine for the first instance, to be doubled at each successive instance. It didn’t take long before the defendants folded.

    Something similar in this case — with the funds going to the Plaintiffs, so that they defendants really don’t like it — seems apt.

  • matty1

    It does strike me as a bit bizarre to be honest that prayer is ok so long as the deity is kept anonymous. I suppose it is meant to allow all religious people to pretend it is theirs but as this case shows plenty of people don’t consider a generic god to be their own so that doesn’t work.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Matty, it’s the “ceremonial deism” fig leaf.

  • John Pieret

    They’re clearly auditioning for the role of the poor persecuted martyr. I say we give them that role.

    If there is one thing Federal judges won’t stand, it’s defiance of their orders. If martyrdom is what they want, the judge is likely to oblige.

  • LightningRose

    Lack of respect, wrong attitude, failure to obey authority. To the farm. Services at Lakeside Methodist, the usual.

  • OpenMindedNotCredulous

    FYI, You can tell them how you feel by sending a (polite) email to commissioners@ccg.carr.org. Such as the one I just sent:

    Subject: are county commission hearings church services?

    I’m referring, of course, to your flouting the law and a federal judge by continuing to force your constituents to listen to sectarian, Christian, prayers. If you want to pray please do so in the church of your choice or in private. Secular government meetings are not the place for such matters. It’s sad that you’re going to waste a lot of time and money by persisting in such discriminatory and illegal behavior.

  • cardinalximinez

    @ #1

    “I can’t find Heaven on either Google Maps or Apple’s Maps.”

    You used the wrong search term. You needed to use “Paradise”, which is in Newfoundland, next Conception Bay and about a 1 hour drive from Dildo.

  • eric

    @3 – I believe that in their complaint, AHA asked for an immediate fine of $30,000 plus $10,000 for each additional future occurrence.

  • U Frood

    But what if my God frowns on such undignified displays as pleading for assistance? Asking my God for help is just going to get him to stamp on your town out of spite.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie


    I knew that looked familiar. A nice turn by Jason Robards. The dog was superb–I always saw him as Benji, gone bad. Don Johnson’s most seminal work.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    Every time I see one of these posts I want to pop by the mayor’s office and ask him if they’ve stopped “praying in” at City Council meetings. Last time I went to a County event (redder than “Red Dawn”) I thought that they might offer a blood sacrifice.

  • http://www.increasinglearning.com Bill Fortenberry

    The Supreme Court has already issued an opinion on the subject of prayers invoking the name of Jesus Christ. In Marsh v. Chambers, the Court specifically declared that they had no jurisdiction over the content of legislative prayers. Mr. Cronk, the attorney for the state of Nebraska, admitted in his oral arguments that many of the prayers being challenged in that case included references to Jesus Christ. When asked “Do you have any prayer in there that doesn’t invoke the guidance of Christ?” Mr. Cronk replied:

    there are prayers that make reference to deity identifiable to the Judaeo-Christian heritage, as Chaplain Palmer put it. There are certain prayers that expressly mention Jesus Christ. I think the record reflects roughly half, a little less than half of the prayers, in addition to making reference to deity, that might be identified in the Judaeo-Christian heritage, do mention Jesus Christ. (http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_82_23)

    In spite of this admission, the justices expressly stated that they did not consider the act of praying in the name of Christ to be a violation of the establishment clause. The conclusion given in the majority opinion stated that:

    The content of the prayer is not of concern to judges where, as here, there is no indication that the prayer opportunity has been exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief. That being so, it is not for us to embark on a sensitive evaluation or to parse the content of a particular prayer. (http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/463/783)

    Thus, Justice Quarles’ injunction that Carroll County refrain from praying in the name of Jesus Christ stands in direct opposition to the original position of the Supreme Court on the issue of legislative prayer.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie


    Then prayers to all other dieties WILL be permitted, nay, encouraged under the letter and spirit of that ruling? If not, it goes right back into the hopper.

    FUCK religions, every one of them–GOD has not, afaia, saved a life, but folks who believe in him have murdered millions.