ACLU battling for religious freedom

The ACLU on Tuesday filed a petition with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking for a full-court review of the April 14 ruling against Cynthia Simpson.

Simpson sued Chesterfield County in 2002 after she was excluded from a list of religious leaders allowed to pray at Board of Supervisors meetings. In a letter to Simpson, the county explained the invocations “are traditionally made to a divinity that is consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

The 4th Circuit overturned a judge’s 2003 ruling based on Marsh v. Chambers, a 1983 Supreme Court decision that ruled nonsectarian legislative prayer is generally constitutional. The appeals court wrote that Chesterfield County has done a good job of including leaders from a variety of religions to offer opening prayers and therefore abided by the Constitution by not advancing any one faith.

Apparently the court felt that limiting prayers to those in the Judeo-Christian tradition was a ‘good job’. Cynthia Simpson is a Wiccan Priestess.

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