Commissioners answer ACLU with prayer

  • Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013 6:28 p.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, March 18, 2013 8:07 p.m.

SALISBURY — Rowan County commissioners answered a lawsuit from the ACLU tonight by opening a public meeting with a prayer that included the words “personal lord and savior.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed a lawsuit against Rowan County last week, accusing county commissioners of violating the First Amendment by beginning meetings with sectarian prayer.

Commissioners Vice Chairman Craig Pierce began the 6 p.m. meeting by praying for “intelligence, wisdom and courage” and ended the prayer to his “personal lord and savior.”

Chairman Jim Sides asked Bryce Neier, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, to speak before the public comment period. Neier worked with Forsyth County when it was sued over prayer during public meetings.

Neier encouraged commissioners to stand up to the ACLU, saying their personal rights don't get checked when they walk into a county commission meeting.

“It's not a hopeless battle,” he said.

He advised them that sometimes you have to fight the good fight.

The ACLU brought the action more than a year after Rowan commissioners thumbed their noses at a warning letter authored by the civil rights organization. That letter asked board members to cease and desist prayer that favored one religion, which it said was unconstitutional.

Three Rowan County residents — Nan Lund, Liesa Montag-Siegel and Bob Voelker — are listed as plaintiffs in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greensboro.

Notice about comments: is pleased to offer readers the ability to comment on stories. We expect our readers to engage in lively, yet civil discourse. cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. Responsibility for the statements posted lies with the person submitting the comment, not If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click "report abuse" and we will review it for possible removal. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Full terms and conditions can be read here.

Do not post the following:

  • Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
  • Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
  • Personal attacks, insults or threats.
  • The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
  • Comments unrelated to the story.