Council Prayer Ruling In South Carolina Stands

A federal appeals court has refused to review a ruling barring the Great\n Falls Town Council from opening its meetings with sectarian prayers.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on July\n 22 that the Great Falls council violated the constitutional separation of church\n and state by opening its meeting with prayers invoking Jesus Christ. On Nov.\n 1, the entire 4th Circuit voted against hearing the town’s appeal of\n the Wynne v. Town of Great Falls decision.

“We’re very disappointed at what’s happened,” Brian\n Gibbons, an attorney representing Great Falls, told The State, a Columbia\n daily. “We think we’re right and the court’s wrong, but we’ll\n abide by the law.”

The State reported that the town council still opens its meetings\n with prayers, but without invoking Jesus Christ. Great Falls officials, however,\n voted in November to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 4th Circuit’s\n decision.

Darla Kaye Wynne, a Wiccan who lives in the community, sued the council arguing\n that its use of Christian prayers to open public meetings violated the First\n Amendment. The publicity of the lawsuit has not been easy for Wynne. She has\n received numerous death threats and the Associated Press reported that someone\n broke into her home and beheaded one of her parrots.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a friend-of-the-court\n brief with the 4th Circuit, arguing in favor of Wynne’s challenge.