NC County Officials Defy Court – Vow to Continue Prayer at Public Meetings
On Monday a huge crowd turned out to support the county commissioners in prayer and song.
Commissioners in one North Carolina county plan to continue offering Christian prayers at public meetings, regardless of a letter from a civil liberties group citing a recent Supreme Court action upholding a federal court’s ban on the practice.
The Salisbury Post reported (http://bit.ly/xtafV5 ) that a huge crowd turned out for the Rowan County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night to offer their support to the elected officials, who say they’ll defy a decision by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down so-called sectarian prayer, or prayer that’s explicitly linked to a particular religion, such as Christianity.
“If they tell county commissioners they can’t pray, soon they’re going to be in my church telling me I can’t pray in the name of Jesus,” said Terry Brown, a county resident who came to the meeting.
The appeals court’s ruling was in the case of the Forsyth County Board of Commissions. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by that board, letting the Fourth Circuit’s ruling stand. Since then, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has contacted 25 and 30 government bodies in North Carolina in response to complaints from residents about sectarian prayer.
So far, Rowan County commissioners are the only local officials who say they’ll disregard the court’s decision, said Katy Parker, legal director of the state ACLU. The group has asked for a response from the commissioners to its concerns by March 5. Salisbury is located about 40 miles northeast of Charlotte.