Humanist Group Asks Court to Fine County for Defying Order Banning Prayers in Jesus’ Name

FrazierCARROLL COUNTY, Md. — A Washington-based humanist group has petitioned the federal court to find county commissioners in Maryland in contempt and fine them $10,000 per prayer for continuing to allow prayers in Jesus’ name despite a court order.

As previously reported, U.S. District Court Judge William D. Quarles, Jr., who was appointed to the bench by then-President George W. Bush issued a preliminary injunction last week against sectarian prayers by Carroll County Commissioners in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Humanist Association (AHA). 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 Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier said during the county meeting last Thursday that the judge’s order is “an infringement on [her] First Amendment rights of free speech and religion,” and refused to stop using the name of Jesus even if it means being placed behind bars.

“I’m willing to go to jail over it,” Frazier declared. “[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.’”

She then read a prayer that she stated had been written by George Washington.

The AHA then threatened to seek contempt charges if Frazier or others with the commission continued to defy the order by delivering sectarian invocations.

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On Tuesday, the commission presented a prayer without references to a specific deity, but during the public comment session, one area resident spoke out against the court ruling and began praying in the name of Jesus. AHA then asked Judge Quarles to fine the commission $10,000 for each sectarian prayer presented in contempt of the court.

“We regret this action had to be taken, but the commissioners have now broken the law twice,” AHA attorney Monica Miller said in statement. “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.”

But the resident, Bruce Holstein, a former employee at the U.S. printing office and current treasurer for Commissioner Richard Rothchild’s election campaign, said that no one with the county asked him to pray.

“Nobody authorized me to do anything,” he stated. “I did it on my own.”

As previously reported, a city councilman in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio is similarly refusing to stop praying in Jesus’ name despite complaints and demands from a prominent atheist activist organization.

“If I, as a Christian, am embarrassed to share his name, then He is going to be embarrassed in recognizing me in my relationship with him,” declared Councilman Terry Mader last month.

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  • Stuart Wragg

    Jacob, Jacob, Jacob. What you are avoiding is the reason that you are on this page. Polite or not, hygienic or not is not the issue. Wanting a conversation? Find friends. Wanting to listen to what Christians believe? Go to Church. Wanting to argue or debate with Christians? Find Christian friends. The point is this. You are trolling the site. You are (politely) pushing your views to Chrsitians who dont want to hear them. The same as you dont want to hear prayers to Jesus in public, Christians dont want to hear your atheist views on this Christian forum. Dude…not very hard to understand. So if you are in fact this super nice guy you are trying to tell us that you are, then show respect to us who believe in God and Jesus Christ and keep quiet. We will not change our belief even if faced with death. Surely you know that? If you feel the need to debate, argue, fight or whatever…do it else where or be honest and say straight out….like a man Jacob….you want to take us on Jacob, because you dont like us. If that is not the case, you will have no problem in leaving this site.

  • Jacob Damkjaer

    Stuart, Stuart, Stuart. The issue isn’t mine, it’s yours..You have an open forum here, so I am treating it like one. If your wish is to have a circle-jerk where you all sit around and agree with each other, without input from the outside world – then you should have taken more care to create an environment that facilitates that.

    You can censor your site all you want, you can make it as exclusive as you like and keep out all dissenting voices and silence all those who disagree with you – the technology to do all this, I believe, is already built into this website.

    If that is really what you want, then you will have no problem demonstrating just how close minded you want to be.

    You can’t hold me accountable, this all on you.

  • Clinton

    I don’t see why there is such extreme worry over humanist groups that don’t want public prayer in certain places like schools or in official government sessions. I am christian but I am willing to not pray out loud around people it may offend. I am free to pray silently in my heart and it will produce the same results minus offending someone. I realize there is a line somewhere but I don’t think we have reached it yet.