Bringing The World Home To You

© 2023 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton 94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Forsyth County Will Argue Speech, Religion And Discrimination in Federal Court Today

A picture of praying hands
PhotoRee / Creative Commons

Forsyth County wants a federal judge to lift an injunction, allowing sectarian prayers from clergy before meetings.  However, the ACLU wants the court to require that the county change its prayer policy to include people of non-traditional faiths.

A 2010 District Court injunction requires the county censor any invocations – ensuring only generic prayers are offered. 

But a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision says a municipality cannot censor the content of prayers before meetings, as long as its policy is inclusive.

But Chris Brook of the ACLU of North Carolina says the Forsyth County’s prayer policy is discriminatory.

“That raises some very serious questions about whether denominations with atypical leadership structures, small denominations or whether non-believers would be allowed to deliver invocation that solemnizes the proceedings,” Brook says, adding that if the injunction if lifted, the county should have to change its policy.

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.

“The injunction was solely designed to force Forsyth County to censor the prayers. That's the only thing that the plaintiffs sued for, and that's what the injunction was about,” Harvey says.

Each party will argue its side at a hearing in Winston-Salem this morning.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
Related Stories
More Stories