Lawsuit or Not, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners Are Going to Pray to Jesus at Meetings

Just over a month ago, the Supreme Court said they didn’t want to hear an appeal from the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners (in North Carolina), putting the final nail in the coffin on their attempts to keep praying to Jesus before meetings.

An hour away, it looks like the Rowan County Board of Commissioners don’t want to take the hint. In fact, they prayed to Jesus at their meeting earlier this week:

Rowan County Commissioners Chair Chad Mitchell (center) prays at a meeting

“We prayed like we normally pray,” said Rowan County Commission Chairman Chad Mitchell.

“At the moment, we’re not under a court order. We only have a request from the ACLU [to stop praying during meetings]. At the moment, we don’t plan on changing the way we’re doing things,” Mitchell said.

“They’re trying to take (prayer) away from us,” said David Coon, who showed up to pray in the lobby.

“They’re trying to take Jesus out of government and out of Rowan County. We’re here protesting it,” Coon said.

Of course, no one is trying to take prayer away from them. Despite what local fundie Jerry Brown says in the video at the 1:00 mark, no one’s going to go into his church and tell him to stop praying.

The ACLU is only asking the Board members to stop praying on government time. They can pray on their own time. Or at home. Or in their minds. But not publicly, and not to Jesus, when they’re supposed to be doing the peoples’ work.

They won’t listen to that advice, though. They’re Christians with a martyr complex. They want to be sued, they want to be sent to jail for violating the law in the name of their god, and they don’t give a damn about the job they ought to be doing.

“We got more complaints (from religious minorities) from Rowan County than anyplace else,” [Katy Parker, legal director of the N.C. chapter of the ACLU] said.

The ACLU received five complaints about the commissioners’ prayer before the letter was sent, and more since then.

Parker of the ACLU in North Carolina, which took Forsyth County to court, wouldn’t rule out litigation in the case of Rowan County.

“We haven’t decided. But even if we don’t (file suit), other groups might,” she said. “And litigation can be very expensive for the county and would be (paid for) by taxpayers.”

Just like they did in Forsyth County, let’s hope the ACLU pokes a hole right through the Rowan County budget. If the taxpayers in the area had any common sense, they would speak out against these elected leaders who don’t care how much money they would waste in a lawsuit they’re bound to lose. And where are the level-headed Christians during all this? Why aren’t they speaking out? If you disagree with what the Commissioners are doing, then go to a meeting and say so!

While I’m talking about North Carolina, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is going after the state’s General Assembly for doing pretty much the same thing:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has lodged formal complaints with the North Carolina General Assembly over its unconstitutional government prayers.

FFRF… sent letters to both the House and Senate in conjunction with its Raleigh chapter, the Triangle Freethought Society.

“Legislators routinely invoke the Christian deity, ‘Jesus Christ,’ and recite bible passages. Many of these ‘prayers’ are nothing less than sermons meant to proselytize and advance the Christian faith to the North Carolina general public,” wrote FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor.

Opening sessions with sectarian prayer sends a message of exclusion to all nonChristian and nonreligious North Carolina citizens. FFRF points out that the endorsement of religion excludes the 15 percent of the American population that is nonreligious.

Every session of the North Carolina House of Representatives opens with a call to prayer. Either the Speaker or Presiding Officer requests that all in attendance stand. Senate sessions are always “blessed” by a Senate Chaplain or another sectarian officiant. Senate attendees are always asked to stand.

You can read the complaints and listen to audio recordings of the prayers right here.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Johnk

    Why is it that you expect everyone to say “uncle” as soon as the ACLU says something? Human nature does not work that way. For an outside entity to show up in a town and start making demands – that in itself is un-American. “Do what we want or we’ll sue you” gets a great response, too.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

      More like “You might not be aware of this, but you’re breaking the law and need to stop.”
      I’m well aware it’s in Christian nature to suddenly go wide-eyed at such a statement and claim persecution though.

      To knowingly break the law after the courts have definitively stated it is unconstitutional and denied an appeal is so much more truely American than what the ACLU is doing, right?

      • Johnk

        Free expression of religion brother, read the first amendment – and please give as much weight to the second part as the first. (You guys only like the first part).

        • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

          Not us… judges. They definitively declared these prayers at board meetings unconstitutional. They denied appeal. Go read their official court documents if you want. It’s all right there.

    • http://profiles.google.com/robertbos Rob Bos

       They’ve been notified that they are not in compliance with the law of the land, and continue to flaunt it. Does it matter who points it out?

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

      Outside entities entering a town and making demands is as American as it gets.

  • Justin Miyundees

    Not only does it condone and promote the Christian god, but it also serves to promote Christians into positions of power.  What Jew, Muslim or atheist is going to kick things off with their traditional prayer to Jesus?  None and they know it.

  • Ronlawhouston

    This will only stop when laws are changed that give politicians immunity from personal lawsuits.  When they get stuck with some of the tab rather than it all falling on the taxpayers, they’ll change their behavior.

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

       They’re immune to personal lawsuits?

  • kaili

    Sad that I expect this behavior.   I live a county away from this and its even on the news sounding as if they’re the ones being persecuted.  It’s even more upsetting that these people neither understand the laws nor think that they’re required to follow them.  Since when is trying to take Christianity out of the government a bad thing when it was never supposed to be there in the first place?  They react as if we’re trying to demolish the entire governmental body just because we don’t want them to pray on government time.

  • Anonymous

    How hard would it be for some people reasonably close to this county to show up at meetings dressed like pirates and pray to the FSM? Then claim religious persecution the moment they are denied entry or told to stop mocking their prayer.

    And if the FSM is now too well known as a mockery then we need to invent another and make sure this time is kept ambiguous so we can use in school districts, courts and other places to show the religionists what it feels like for the shoe to be on the other foot.

    • m6wg4bxw

      Such an an example would clearly make the point to those of us who understand the issue, but be lost on type of Christians who defend government religion. Afterall, the FSM is fictional, while Jesus is real. How dare anyone compare Jesus to fiction!?

  • T-Rex

    The South….SMH. And they continue to call those who point out their Constitutional violations unpatriotic.  My apologies to the rational people of the South but 9 times out of 10 violations like this seem to come from the southern Bible belt states. Is it something in the water or are all those rumors about inbreeding really true? BTW, I’m in Florida, but I live along the coast, away from most the religitards that occupy the inland, north and central portions of the state so I don’t run in to too many delusional people…usually.

  • Xeon2000

    “They’re trying to take Jesus out of government and out of Rowan County. We’re here protesting it,” Coon said.

    Yes we are. That’s what we call a theocracy.

  • Xeon2000

    Entertain yourself with the comments here:
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2849767/posts

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

       The horror!

    • Anonymous

       The people writing those comments are displaying some serious stupid.

      I live in Wake County, NC, which, on the surface, appears to be more rational because of the infusion of outsiders. But religion (especially christianity) permeates almost every facet of people’s lives.

  • Anonymous

     “They’re trying to take Jesus out of government”=education system failure in that town or really in most of America today, lets be honest, its no better in my state.  I think Ronlawhouston makes a very interesting point above.  When politicians have to “pay to pray”, I wonder how strident they would be?

  • http://profiles.google.com/jinxmchue Jinx McHue

    Thank goodness those very wise men who crafted our Constitution and knew it’s religion-rejecting 1st Amendment better than anyone never allowed such horrible prayers in their assemblies.

    Oh, wait…

    =============

    O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord
    of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and
    reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms,
    Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these
    our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor
    and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be
    henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the
    righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that
    countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them,
    therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom
    in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our
    cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause
    and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring
    justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of
    war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!

    Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this
    honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest
    foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order,
    harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice,
    religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve
    the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them
    and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou
    seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting
    glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the
    merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.

    Amen.

    Reverend Jacob Duché
    Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    September 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m.

    • FSq

      Your point?

      If there was a history of sacrificing a black slave before every meeting, would you still be advocating killing one now?

      Go crawl back under the fridge, the lights have been turned on and we are not going to turn them off anymore. Time for you scummy people to go back under the fridge, or get you into the closet and see how you like it for a change.

    • Freak

      1774?  Before the Revolutionary War had even started?  How is that relevant?

  • FSq

    These guys are willingly breaking the law. Why are there no charges being brought against them? What criminal charges could be brought up against them for this?

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

       It isn’t a criminal offense. Someone has to sue on behalf of the N.C. public. Probably ACLU will do it soon.

  • Anonymous

    Chrisitans are always find of calling this country “a Chrisitan Nation.” I’d like to point out a very good counter argument: The Treaty of Tripoli. Look it up on Wikipedia. It Explicity defines the United States as Not Christian. Exact Excerpt is on Wikipedia. And the best part is that it was overwhelming ratified by the Senate which was signed by John Adams.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_53TOS4V26HBHM6X3HPULA2HPAQ Randy

    I live just a few miles from Rowan County. Having moved to NC for work a couple of years ago, I am sadly NOT amazed by this. The ignorance is beyond belief. No one is coming to stop prayer in church. This is not church. This is the seat of county government. It does not belong exclusively to Christians. Yet denying them the use of the levers of civil power to promote their religion is persecution? Hardly. Neutrality is by no means any sort of persecution. 

  • m6wg4bxw

    I live in an adjacent county to Rowan, so I’ve been seeing this on the local news.
    Hemant said, “If the taxpayers in the area had any common sense, they would speak out against these elected leaders who don’t care how much money they would waste in a lawsuit they’re bound to lose.”I want to share a response to this issue from Commissioner Jim Sides. 

    “Doesn’t scare me,” Sides said. “I’ve had taxpayers tell me, ‘If you want to raise taxes a nickel to fight this,’ — that’s $5 million in revenue — they said, ‘Go ahead.’ We will fight it. We’re not running from a fight.”

    source: http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/local/legal-battle-over-prayer-meetings-could-be-costly/nJQmb/

  • http://twitter.com/DanTresOmi Peoples Rodriguez

     but wouldn’t their prayers to Jesus make the ACLU go away? LOL! 

  • Stevejacob Ball

    You cannot be a member of the A.C.L.U.(in belief) and really be a Christian. You are one or the other.Of that,I’m quite certain.I’ve never felt so strongly that any particular “group of people” were deluded. In “Jesus name” is all there is for a Christian.The devil’s crowd hates the name of Jesus.They will go to any possible extreme to stop the name of Jesus from being used on any level they can stop it.The public prayer today,the church,tomorrow. Don’t fall for the lies about just stopping it in public,it will go much further before they are through! 
     

  • Jesus Christ is Lord

    “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.” I will be praying for you! God created you and He loves you so much that He sent his only son, Jesus, to die on a cross for you! Jesus died, was buried and rose again on the third day so that YOU can live with Him in heaven! “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He is not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance!


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