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Frederick County board adding prayer to meetings

FREDERICK — The Frederick County Commissioners are adding an opening prayer to their public meetings.

Board members voted 3-to-2 on Thursday to invite religious leaders to attend their meetings to invoke “divine guidance” for the commissioners and their deliberations.

The religious leaders must be ordained and affiliated with a monotheistic religion with an established congregation in Frederick County. Their prayers must avoid referring to any particular religion, denomination or sect.

Commissioner Paul Smith opposed the policy because it prohibits prayers that specifically mention specific deities, such as Jesus Christ.

Commissioner David Gray argued for a moment of silence instead of a spoken prayer.

The policy is similar to one in Chesterfield County, Va., that has been upheld by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.