• 70°

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.

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native

Education

RSS administration will recommend selling Faith Elementary property to charter school

Business

Inspired by advice from father-in-law, Angela Mills launches her own business in memory of him

Local

Rowan County Democrats re-elect leaders, pass resolutions

Local

Baseball: Memories come alive in Ferebee book

Local

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, professionals reflect on detecting abuse in a virtual world

Business

Biz Roundup: Small Business Center announces spring slate of workshop for business owners

Clubs

Kiwanis Pancake Festival starts Friday

Local

Rowan fire marshal seeks to clear up confusion, worry caused by solicitation letter

Education

Fun every day: Fifth anniversary for Yadkin Path Montessori School

Nation/World

Charles: Royal family ‘deeply grateful’ for support for Philip

News

North Carolina sites to resume J&J vaccines after CDC review

News

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Playoff time means get ready for ‘big-boy football’

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT