The New Orleans court allowed a Texas judge to open his courtroom proceedings with a prayer.
Montgomery County Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack opened the proceedings from his courtroom with a few minutes of prayer. He invited religious leaders from the community to lead the prayer. In 2019, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) claimed the invocations could be considered harmful and launched a legal battle against the judge.
Thursday, after years of legal battle, the 5e The Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 in favor of Wayne. The court rejected the FFRF’s claims. The judges allowed Judge Wayne to continue his practices in court. He can allow chaplains and ministers to pray at the start of his legal proceedings as long as the invitation is open for different religious denominations and they can freely decline to participate.
“We cannot credit plaintiff’s assertion that ‘coercion in a courtroom does not come from the imposition of actual harm,'” the court wrote. “Complainants must present evidence that such a perception is objectively reasonable. Evidence from which we can conclude that “coercion is a real and substantial probability”.
Prayer in court
Judge Wayne Mack is a former Pentecostal minister, so he prioritizes prayer even during his proceedings. In a statement after the decision, he said he was “eternally grateful” for the decision.
“I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Montgomery County,” he said.
FFRF called the court “disturbing”, saying it was a dishonest decision.
“A courtroom is not a church and a judge’s pew should not be a pulpit,” said the organization’s co-chair, Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It is a dishonest decision that claims a tradition of prayer in courtrooms and denying it is coercive.”
Also Read: TENNESSEE GOVERNOR SIGNS ‘DAY OF PRAYER’ PROCLAMATION TO RECOGNIZE GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY
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