La Grange Council Defies Court Rulings, Opens Meeting With Prayer

A 140-year tradition of prayer returned to a local town council meeting Monday night after two years without it- even though it violates federal law.

The La Grange town council meeting in Lenoir County opened with prayer Monday night instead of a moment of silence, challenging boundaries set between church and state in the U.S. Constitution.

The seven-member board unanimously voted to pray before meetings even though federal judges ruled in several judgments, the most recent handed down in July, that praying to open a public meeting violates the First Amendment.

La Grange Mayor Woodard Gurley says, "God comes first in our lives and I see no reason why the town of La Grange can't have a meeting and have prayer. If the Congress of the United States, the Legislature of Raleigh, North Carolina can open with prayer, why can't the town of La Grange?"

Council members say they will continue to pray before each meeting until there's a formal complaint to stop.

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