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Federal judge rules against Parkersburg City Council in prayer case

A federal judge in West Virginia has ruled in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and two members who sued over the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at Parkersburg City Council meetings.

U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. in a 30-page decision today permanently enjoined the city of Parkersburg from reciting the prayer at each council meeting. The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over West Virginia, had previously struck down Christian prayers recited by county commissioners.

“The city council’s prayer practice most clearly runs afoul of the 4th Circuit’s concern with identifying the government with a single preferred religious sect,” Copenhaver wrote.

In 2018, Freedom from Religion and two local members, Daryl Cobranchi and Eric Engle, filed suit against the city.

“In a country currently plagued by Christian nationalism, this decision is an affirmation of our secular constitutional order and a badly needed patch in the wall of separation between church and state,” Engle said in a release from the foundation.

Read the story in The News and Sentinel on Wednesday.

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