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One News Now

Cleveland County School Board Addresses Starting Their Meetings with Prayer for a Second Time

Newly crafted prayer policy should be ready for first reading on November 9
By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
October 30, 2015

PrayerSHELBY – Two weeks ago the Christian Action League reported that the Cleveland County Christian Law Enforcement Association addressed the Cleveland County Board of Education Monday, October 12th, about starting its meetings with a prayer. After the group realized the school board was the only government body in the county that didn’t start it’s meetings with an invocation, they made an appeal for its members to establish the practice.

“We think God should be in our lives,” said Cleveland County Sheriff’s Captain Joel Shores to the media. “We are seeing these progressives try to slowly remove everything that our forefathers fought for.”

The school board had opted to use a moment of silence rather than a prayer in an attempt to avoid any lawsuits. By the end of the meeting, which was a packed house, the board voted 7-2 to continue with a moment of silence, but to also have the school system’s superintendent and legal counsel explore potential policies and guidelines for implementing prayer at their meetings.

On Monday night of this week, the school board sought to address the matter of prayer before their meetings again. This time the crowd was so large it was necessary to have their meeting at Shelby Middle School’s gymnasium.

According to the Shelby Star, “Superintendent Stephen Fisher updated the board on the progress made by the district’s attorney.” Fisher said a policy was being crafted and would be ready for its first read on November 9. During their work session board members would be able to make amendments to the policy as they deemed appropriate. The policy would finally be ready for a second reading at the board’s November 23 meeting.

The Star also reports that the proposal for a prayer policy received strong support from the public at its latest meeting. “[S]everal students, attorneys, elected officials, law enforcement officers and other members of the community spoke in favor of beginning the meetings with prayer.”

Tony Brown, a Wiccan, spoke on behalf of the Foothills Interfaith Assembly, advocating that any prayers offered at the beginning of meetings must be inclusive of all religions. He cited a decision by Lincoln County Commissioners who voted to end religious invocations when one man opened with a Muslim prayer.

But Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League said school board members shouldn’t shy away from starting their meetings with prayer just because someone of another religion other than the Christian faith might pray.

“It may make some folks uncomfortable, but religious liberty means no religious group’s input or contribution of prayer should be suppressed. I’m a Christian, but to check the religious participation of any group in the public arena is to threaten my own religious freedom. Moreover, we shouldn’t shut the door on what’s good out of fear it might also open the way for what’s bad,” said Dr. Creech.

“Besides most groups other than Christian never participate anyway” he said. It’s a common misconception there is widespread religious pluralism in America. Studies clearly show this is not the case. The nation is predominantly Christian, nearly 90 percent, and, when Jews are included, and a Jewish prayer would most likely illicit no objections, the percentage reaches as high as 94 percent. So to prohibit prayer at the meeting because a Wiccan, or a Muslim might pray, would be like throwing the baby out with the bath water,” he argued.

WBTV News reports that Chairman of the Cleveland County School Board, Philip Glover, said, “I’m a true believer and believe in the power of prayer and I’m just anxious to see the work from our attorney and see what comes up.”

Apparently much of Cleveland County is also eager to see what the board comes with. One thing is for certain, the overwhelming majority of the public that attended the last two school board meetings clearly favor the school board starting with an invocation that honors God and seeks his favor on their deliberations.