Court says Jackson County Christian prayer is illegal

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan county’s practice of Christian-only prayers at public meetings has been declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

In a 2-1 decision Wednesday, the court ruled in favor of a Jackson County resident who was offended after he began attending county commissioner meetings in 2013 to discuss environmental issues.

Peter Bormuth said he felt compelled to stand and participate in religion in order to speak to public officials. At one meeting, a commissioner turned his chair around when Bormuth complained about prayer.

The appeals court says prayer at public meetings can be legal. But in Jackson County, the court says only commissioners offered a prayer, not audience members, and the prayer was always Christian, not from other faiths.

There was no immediate comment from the board chairman.

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