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Carroll County Reverts To Disputed Prayer Policy

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ) — Prayer is back on the agenda in Carroll County. Following a Supreme Court ruling, the county’s commissioners voted to reinstate prayer in their meetings.

Alex DeMetrick reports opponents say they will still mount a legal challenge.

The Carroll County Commissioners didn’t mention Jesus Thursday. God was kept generic by an earlier resolution forced on the board by a federal judge not to favor the Christian religion over another at a public meeting.

“I would entertain a motion to repeal resolution number 917-2014,” said Dave Roush, Carroll County Commissioner.

That’s thanks to a case brought against the town council of Greece, N.Y. which starts meetings with guest preachers.

The Supreme Court ruled in the town council’s favor because different denominations were allowed in a predominantly Christian town, prompting the lower court judge to lift his stay against Carroll County.

“This decision is really a victory for the First Amendment and free speech,” said Richard Rothschild, Carroll County Commissioner.

“I think it’s a win for America and I’m very proud of this board being a part of it,” said Robin Bartlett Frazier, Carroll County Commissioner.

“I’m not surprised by it to be very honest with you,” said plaintiff Neil Ridgely.

Ridgely was one of the county residents that sued the board. He says not to stop all prayer, just the five commissioners’ version of it.

“I’d hoped that perhaps they’d amend their motion to allow for clergy or laypeople from throughout the community to come in and offer prayers,” Ridgely said.

While the commissioners praised the Supreme Court’s decision, they also acknowledged its limits.

“We’re not proselytizing or denigrating, and none of us ever have,” said Haven Shoemaker, Carroll County Commissioner.

But opponents say they’ll still fight to move prayer out of the commissioners’ hands.

“We still feel very strongly that there’s a need to pursue our case,” said Ridgely.

Even though a federal judge lifted his stay against the commissioners’ praying, opponents say there are enough differences between their suit and the Supreme Court decision to keep their challenge alive.

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