WINSTON-SALEM—Both sides claimed victory in the less than one hour hearing in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem.

“I think it was a great victory,’’ said Bill Whiteheart, a Forsyth County commissioner.

“As you recall, when the court was called in session, she said ‘God save the United States.’”

The county was sued in 2007 over ministers’ giving prayers before meetings.

A 2010 injunction barred the practice on constitutional grounds.

This year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such prayers were legal in Greece, New York, because the town had an inclusive policy.

The American Civil Liberties Union of N.C. had sought to have the injunction modified.

“On the one hand, we’re disappointed that the injunction was dissolved today, but on the other hand, we are heartened that the judge was so very clear in warning the county that it could not discriminate,” said Chris Brook, the ACLU’s legal director in the state.

Saying the ruling in New York changed the law, county attorneys asked that the injunction be dissolved.

After hearing oral arguments, Judge James Beaty ruled that the injunction would be dissolved, but cautioned the county to be more inclusive.

“I think by the fact the judge lifted the injunction, he’s saying that our policy is a good policy the way it is and just be careful how we go forward,” said county commissioner Mark Baker.

The ACLU says it’ll continue to monitor the county’s meeting.

“We had been arguing that the county not discriminate against religious minorities, or non-believers in the invocation policy that they have,’’ said Brook.

Some spectators were on hand for personal reasons.

“Of course, our main concern was that Christians be able to pray in the name of Jesus Christ,’’ said Jeff Baity, with Berean Baptist Church.

Commissioners say the newly elected board will have to consider changes but still expect the majority of prayers to be Christian.

“Just by the sheer mathematical percentages of the cultural, religious makeup of Forsyth County, I think you could expect that to be the fact,’’ said Whiteheart.

The next scheduled full meeting of the commissioners is Monday.

The new board will be sworn in on Dec. 1.

– Bob Costner