- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Forsyth County Commission wants relief from a federal court order on prayer at its meeting.

The commissioners voted unanimously Monday to have the county attorney work to get the order overturned, so they can go back to their previous policy on prayer.

The commissioners formerly invited clergy from various faiths to give the opening prayer. That stopped in 2010 when a federal judge issued an order prohibiting the board from allowing sectarian prayer in meetings.

The commissioners lost an appeal and chose not to ask clergy to deliver prayers with nonspecific references to God.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week in a New York case that the town did not violate the Constitution by allowing ministers to deliver Christian prayers at meetings, since the town had an inclusive invitation policy.

County attorney Davida Martin says Forsyth County’s previous policy is virtually identical to the New York town. She hopes to provide the board May 22 on getting the court order overturned.

Commissioner Bill Whiteheart asked if the county could seek reimbursement for the $300,000 raised by the faith community to pay for the county’s legal defense, but Martin said the decision was consistent with the law of the 4th Judicial Circuit at that time and they could not recover the money.

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