|Written by Dave Bohon|
|Friday, 09 March 2012 10:34|
|A North Carolina county has thumbed its nose at the state’s ACLU franchise, which has been warning county officials all over the state to stop opening government meetings with prayer. As reported by the Associated Press, a “Rowan County commissioner opened the board’s [March 5] meeting with a Christian prayer, despite a warning from the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union that it would violate the law and potentially trigger a lawsuit. As has long been the elected board’s practice, Commissioner Jon Barber (left) opened the public meeting with an invocation asking for a blessing in the name of Jesus.”
The ACLU has been harassing counties all over the Tar Heel State since mid-January, when the U.S Supreme Court declined to review a ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners in its long-held tradition of opening meetings with predominantly Christian prayers. As reported by The New American, two residents sued the county after a local pastor opened a December 2007 government meeting by thanking God for sending His Son “to forgive us for our sins,” and closed the prayer “in the name of Jesus.”
In its two-to-one majority opinion against the county, the court ruled that legislative prayer “must strive to be nondenominational so long as that is reasonably possible — it should send a signal of welcome rather than exclusion. It should not reject the tenets of other faiths in favor of just one.”
Since then, reported the AP, at least 15 government entities in North Carolina have either dropped prayer entirely, or banned the petitioners from using specifically Christian language, which the ACLU has always found particularly distasteful.
According to North Carolina’s Salisbury Post, in response to the ACLU’s demand that the Rowan County Commissioners stop opening their meetings with Christian prayers, Barber “not only prayed in Jesus’ name and addressed ‘our Heavenly father’” in his invocation on March 5, but also “referenced ‘the salvation of Jesus Christ’ and declared His name ‘as the only way to eternal life.’ ”
The invocation, which was accompanied by hymns sung by prayer supporters gathered in the first-floor lobby of the county court house, was followed by a public comment period, during which a total of 31 local residents spoke out on the issue, most in favor of continuing the prayer tradition.
“The ACLU has attempted to intimidate the [commissioners] but they can not issue orders,” Resident Larry Wright said, reflecting the opinion of the majority.
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