County commissioner willing to go to jail for her Christian faith

Robin Bartlett Frazier defies injunction against sectarian prayers.

Published 09 July 2014  |  
Carroll County Government
Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier

A local official in Maryland recently announced that she is willing to go to jail because of her Christian faith.

Carroll County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier decided that she will continue to defy a federal judge's order against sectarian prayers in board meetings, and is willing to suffer any consequences.

On March 26, U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles issued a temporary injunction barring the commissioners from having sectarian prayers before meetings. One day later, Bartlett Frazier defied the ruling.

"I think that is an infringement on my freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and I think it's a wrong ruling," she said before the March 27 meeting.

"And just as I wouldn't give up my guns or I wouldn't allow my children to be palm scanned or I wouldn't give up my property rights with PlanMaryland, I'm not going to give up those rights. But out of respect for my colleagues, I'm not sure how strongly they feel about it, 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. 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.' So, I say 'no' to this ruling."

The commissioner then recited a prayer that mentioned Jesus Christ twice.

However, a group of citizens of differing sects protested the board's practice of opening their meetings with prayer.

"I reached a point, as others had, you just get tired of going to the meetings and being in an excluded class of individuals," one of the plaintiffs, Neil Ridgely, said in a McDaniel College documentary.

American Humanist Association attorney Monica Miller represents the plaintiffs, but Miller said the case is not about Christian discrimination.

"This isn't about atheism being pushed down someone's throat," she told the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). "This is about being inclusive to everyone, including Christians."

Miller added that one of the plaintiffs is Catholic.

The Supreme Court ruled in May that sectarian prayers in local government meetings are constitutional. Commissioner Bartlett Frazier is confident that that precedent will lead to a successful ruling in the pending case against Carroll County.

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