'Jesus Christ' banned at town hall
Wiccan high priestess won federal court ruling on council's prayers
© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com
Council members in a South Carolina town can no longer mention the name of Jesus Christ or another specific deity in their prayers during meetings.
The federal court ruling referred to a case brought by a Wiccan high priestess in Great Falls, the local Chester County Herald reported.
Darla Kaye Wynne, a Great Falls resident, claimed in her suit the town violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by using the name of Jesus Christ in prayers offered before or after meetings, the paper said.
Great Falls Mayor H.C. "Speedy" Starnes, Jr., pointed out praying in Jesus' name has been the practice "ever since we've had a council."
The town was incorporated in 1968.
The ruling said Wynne proposed in late 2000 that members of different religions be invited to lead prayers or that they be limited only to mentioning "God," according to the Herald.
The council adopted new rules in June, including a provision stating prayers could refer to a specific deity but no one would be required to participate.
U.S. District Court Judge Cameron McGowan Currie's decision, however, stated the council is barred from "invoking the name of a specific deity associated with any one specific faith or belief in prayers given at Town Council meetings ... ."
Mayor Starnes said the town plans to appeal the ruling, the South Carolina paper reported.
"We're certainly disappointed in the decision, but we will comply," he said.
The council's stance has received support from several local churches and ministers. Some letters noted church members opposed allowing "an alternative prayer to a self-proclaimed 'witch,'" the court document said.
Wiccans practice a nature-based, neo-pagan religion rooted in pre-Christian traditions.
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