• 54°

With injunction in place, commissioners go behind closed doors to pray

To avoid violating a court order barring them from saying sectarian prayers to start their meeting, Rowan County commissioners went behind closed doors to pray today.
Commissioners Chairman Jim Sides started the meeting by reading a statement about the injunction issued last month by a federal judge in an ongoing lawsuit over prayer at board meetings.
“We believe this injunction is unconstitutional,” Sides said. He said if board members prayed in the open meeting, they would use language that does not mention Jesus.
Commissioner Jon Barber, who was scheduled to deliver the invocation today, moved that the board recess to pray. They left the meeting chambers for about three minutes.
While the commissioners were gone, someone attending the meeting stood and prayed, ending his prayer “in Jesus’ name.” The commissioners came back into the meeting room before that prayer ended.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in March aiming to stop the overwhelmingly Christian prayers that open Rowan Board of Commissioners meetings.
Three local residents are named as plaintiffs in that lawsuit. Nancy Lund, Liesa Montag-Siegel and Robert Voelker say the prayers violate their constitutional rights and make them feel marginalized at meetings.
On July 23, U.S. District Court Judge James A. Beaty Jr. granted their request for an injunction and ordered the county to cease the prayers that favor one religion while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts.
Barber told the Post last week that, out of respect for his Christian values, “I will always pray in the name of Jesus.”
And he said then that he was not worried about consequences.
“I have already won this war through my salvation in Jesus Christ,” he said. “God will lead me through this persecution and I will be His instrument.”
In a statement today, Barber said that “in order to not jeopardize the goal of this Board of Commissioners that this issue be properly vetted by the U.S. Supreme Court, and to not put my fellow commissioners, their livelihoods, and their families at risk for my actions, I will ask our chairman for a brief recess while this board adjourns to another room.”
With the possibility of an injunction looming, the board adopted a policy in April that would have a chaplain deliver an invocation instead of commissioners.
The policy asks that the chaplain deliver a prayer that avoids having “sectarian references become too frequent and no invocation should proselytize or advance any faith or disparage the religious faith or non-religious views of others.”
Members of the commission would not be able to give the invocation, nor would they be involved in reviewing the invocation’s content, the policy said.
But last week, commissioners Vice Chairman Craig Pierce said commissioners can also choose to deliver their own non-sectarian prayer.

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey

News

Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County

College

Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park

Lifestyle

History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County

Business

‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove

Coronavirus

Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations

Education

‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year

Columns

Ester Marsh: What body type are you?

Nation/World

The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone

Nation/World

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

Nation/World

US, China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency

Nation/World

Sikh community calls for gun reforms after FedEx shooting

High School

North Rowan romps into second round of football playoffs

Nation/World

FBI had interviewed former FedEx employee who killed eight

Crime

Gastonia man sentenced for crash into restaurant that killed his daughter, daughter-in-law

Nation/World

Some call for charges after video of police shooting 13-year-old in Chicago

Business

State unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in March

Coronavirus

NASCAR approach to virus vaccine varies greatly

News

Judge rejects Cherokee challenge against new casino in Kings Mountain

Elections

Jackson tops NC Senate fundraising; Walker coffers also full

Local

Kiwanis Pancake Festival serves thousands of flapjacks for charity

Coronavirus

Rowan remains in state’s middle, yellow tier for COVID-19 community spread