ACLU: Sectarian opening prayers at commissioner meetings need to stop | News
SALISBURY - For years meetings of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners have opened with prayer, and more often than not, that prayer was offered "in the name of Jesus," but citing complaints over a number of years, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked commissioners to stop using sectarian prayer to open meetings.
In an email to WBTV, Commissioner Carl Ford reacted to the letter: "The ACLU is reminding us that we took an oath to uphold the US and NC constitution. Have they read these documents, and the references to the Almighty, and in the state
constitution saying you shouldn't even be an elected official if you don't believe(paraphrase?) And by the way I took that oath on the BIBLE! I will continue to pray in Jesus name. I am not perfect so I need all the help I can get, and asking for guidance for my decisions from Jesus is the best help I, and Rowan County, can ever hope for."
In a letter sent to commissioners, ACLU Legal Director Katy Parker said that the organization had received more complaints about the Rowan Commissioners meetings than any other public agency when it comes to sectarian prayers.
“Indeed, you may be interested to know that we have received more complaints about sectarian legislative prayer by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners than any other local government in North Carolina in the past several years," Parker wrote.
In an email sent to other commissioners and provided to WBTV, Commissioner Jim Sides was defiant: "I will continue to pray in JESUS name,” Sides wrote. “Chairman Mitchell, I volunteer to be the first to go to jail for this cause, and if you will go my bail in time for the next meeting, I will go again!”
The ACLU is asking the commission to inform them of its "course of action" by March 5.