Public prayer should be protected speech

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia has joined 12 other states to contest a U.S. District Court ruling that said a North Carolina county commission violated the First Amendment by opening meetings with a prayer by a county commissioner.

The judge believes that because the prayers didn’t represent more than Christian religions and were given by commissioners, it violates the principle of separation of church and state.

 We agree with West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is questioning the ruling and has taken steps to join the other states in battling the ruling.

“This is an attempt to allow the free expression of one’s religious practices,” Morrisey told WV MetroNews. “It’s been going on since the founding of the Republic, and we’re not going to let some politically correct people stop it now.”

In a column sent to media throughout the state, Morrisey explains why he, as the state’s Attorney General, needed to get involved in the challenge.

“Well, the North Carolina case is currently pending before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. West Virginia is one of the states covered by the Fourth Circuit, so whatever decision that panel hands down will be binding in our state.”

He also said it is common practice throughout much of West Virginia for government meetings to open with prayer, oftentimes led by an elected official.

That is exactly what the judge has ruled is illegal in North Carolina, with the belief that an elected official’s involvement serves to intimidate or coerce others to have similar beliefs.

But we have to ask: Why does getting elected to a public position make that politician check his or her personal religion at the door…

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