ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. -- Rowan County Commissioners are under pressure to stop opening their meetings with a Christian prayer.
The N.C. American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Rowan County Commissioners asking them to stop sectarian prayers that offend those of other faiths. The request comes in the wake of winning a legal battle over the same issue in Forsyth County and more complaints about prayer to the N.C. ACLU than any other local government.
Upon receiving the ACLU's letter from county attorney, Jay Dees, Commissioner Jim Sides wrote: I will continue to pray in Jesus name. I volunteer to be the first to go to jail for this cause. This is ridiculous.
"We haven't asked them to stop opening their meetings with prayer, but the prayer has to be non-sectarian," said Legal Director for the N.C. ACLU Katy Parker.
The ACLU's stance means the use of 'Jesus' makes those of other faiths feels excluded. In Forsyth County a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. The ruling banned sectarian prayer from commissioner meetings.
The ACLU said the same law should be applied in Rowan County. However Ford said the prayer is not meant to preach.
"We are asking God for direction or guidance before a meeting so I think you should be able to do that," said Ford.
Dees,also said the issue will likely be addressed at Monday night's commissioners' meeting. The ACLU is asking for a formal acknowledgment of their letter from Rowan County by March 5.