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NC County Resists Ban On Christian Prayers
ICC Note
“The thought that one cannot use Jesus’ name in a public meeting is wrong, and, at least in my opinion, is a violation of my personal First Amendment right guaranteeing free exercise of religion.”
By Michael Gryboski
02/22/2012 United States (The Christian Post)-A county government in North Carolina has continued to allow Christian prayers to be said at its meetings, even after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a lower court ruling that declared them unconstitutional.
Rowan County Board of Commissioners continues to open their meetings with prayers mentioning Jesus, even as the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina asked the state counties government to stop performing sectarian prayers.

“The earliest book of minutes that we have easy access to is from February of 1971, and the Board of Commissioners at that time was using the same procedure of invocation as we are currently using.”
According to Mitchell, the prayer policy the board has is that each commissioner is given a choice in rotation to give an opening prayer and they may say what they please.

Mike Meno, communications manager for the ACLU of North Carolina, told CP that the controversy stems from an earlier case the ACLU took on in Forsyth County, N.C.
“In 2007, the ACLU of North Carolina filed a lawsuit against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners on behalf of … two longtime Winston-Salem residents who objected to the board’s continued use of sectarian prayers,” said Meno.
“The highest court to rule on this matter, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, agreed that any prayers in a government meeting ‘must strive to be nondenominational so long as that is reasonably possible.'”
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Forsyth County. Afterwards, the ACLU wanted the rest of the state to understand the Fourth Circuit’s decision.

“Rowan County – where we have received more complaints from local residents about government-endorsed sectarian prayers than anywhere else in North Carolina – has so far resisted the change.”
Rowan County Commissioner Mitchell said to CP that unlike Forsyth County, the prayers at their meetings were delivered by board members rather than invited clergy.

“The thought that one cannot use Jesus’ name in a public meeting is wrong, and, at least in my opinion, is a violation of my personal First Amendment right guaranteeing free exercise of religion.”

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