CARROLL COUNTY, Md. — A county commissioner in Maryland is refusing to stop praying in Jesus’ name despite a court order placing an injunction on sectarian prayers during government meetings.
Carroll County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier says that she won’t stop using the name of Jesus even if it means being placed behind bars.
“I’m willing to go to jail over it,” she declared on Thursday during the county budget meeting. “[I]f we cease to believe that our rights come from God, we cease to be America. We’ve been told to be careful. But we’re going to be careful all the way to communism if we don’t start standing up and saying ‘no.’”
Frazier was speaking in defiance of a court order issued on Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge William D. Quarles, Jr., who was appointed to the bench by then-President George W. Bush. Quarles had issued a preliminary injunction against sectarian prayers by the county in response to a lawsuit filed last year by the American Humanist Association. The group had asserted that the Christian invocations violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
“[Commissioners must not invoke] the name of a specific deity associated with any specific faith or belief,” Quarles ruled.
But Frazier said during the county meeting on Thursday that the judge’s order is “an infringement on [her] First Amendment rights of free speech and religion.”
“I think it’s a wrong ruling,” she stated. “I’m not going to give up these rights.”
She then read a prayer that she outlined was written by George Washington, although some claim that Washington is not the author of the prayer, which was found in a chest owned by one of his early descendants.
“Let me have all my directions from Thy Holy Spirit and success from Thy bountiful land,” Frazier read. “Let the bright beams of Thy Light so shine into my heart and enlighten my mind in understanding Thy blessed word that I may be enabled to perform Thy will in all things and effectually resist all temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil.”
The American Humanist Association is now threatening to seek contempt charges if Frazier or others with the commission continue to pray in the name of Jesus.
“We appreciate the commissioners’ individual religious freedom, and encourage them to worship as they wish in their homes and in their churches,” attorney Monica Miller wrote to the commission after Frazier defied the order. “We simply ask that they refrain from using the apparatus of government as a platform for their personal, sectarian religious views.”
“Of course, it’s entirely possible that the commissioner wishes to become a public martyr of sorts for Christianity, a celebrity upon whom religious sympathizers can bestow admiration and encouragement,” the letter continued. “If that’s the case, and if she therefore ignores both the court and this warning, she will no doubt get her wish.”