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Court rejects appeal over prayer at public meeting

January 17, 2012
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WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a North Carolina county commission over the mostly Christian prayers offered at the beginning of its public meetings.

The justices on Tuesday left in place a federal appeals court ruling that held that the predominantly Christian prayers at the start of Forsyth County commission meetings violated the First Amendment's prohibition on government endorsement of a particular religion.

The commission said its doors have long been open to religious leaders of many faiths. But the appeals court in Richmond, Va., found that more than three-quarters of the 33 invocations given before meetings between May 2007 and December 2008 referred to "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," "Christ" or "Savior."

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