Just two days after a U.S. district judge issued a preliminary injunction barring sectarian prayer at government meetings in Carroll County, Md., commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier ignored the order and opened Thursday’s budget meeting with an invocation referencing Jesus Christ.
The Carroll County Times reported that Frazier “seemed near tears” when she openly voiced her dissatisfaction with the injunction, which was signed Tuesday by U.S. District Court of Maryland Judge William D. Quarles Jr.
“I’m willing to go to jail over it. I believe this is a fundamental of America and if we cease to believe that our rights come from God, we cease to be America,” she said. “We’ve been told to be careful. But we’re going to be careful all the way to communism if we don’t start standing up and saying ‘no.’”
The prayer Frazier delivered was one she said was written by President George Washington (though some historians later rebutted that the nation’s first president wasn’t truly the author).
Regardless, the text mentioned Jesus more than once, which is a violation of the judge’s order that commissioners not use “the name of a specific deity associated with any specific faith or belief,” Reuters reported.
Watch Frazier’s speech and prayer below:
The judge’s injunction follows the filing of a lawsuit in May 2013 by the American Humanist Association and several residents, claiming that the sectarian invocations posed a violation of the Establishment Clause.
As the Carroll County Times reported, sectarian prayers are halted until the judge makes a determination in the lawsuit against Carroll County.
“Commissioner Frazier spoke at length in brazen defiance of the federal judge’s order,” said Bruce Hake, a plaintiff in the case who attended Thursday’s meeting.
Monica Miller, one of the lawyers for local plaintiffs, wrote a letter Thursday claiming that she will not seek contempt charges against Frazier over this violation, but that if sectarian prayers continue, the politician won’t be so lucky in the future.
“Of course, it’s entirely possible that the commissioner wishes to become a public martyr of sorts for Christianity, a celebrity upon whom religious sympathizers can bestow admiration and encouragement,” Miller wrote. “If that’s the case, and if she therefore ignores both the court and this warning, she will no doubt get her wish.”
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