By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
October 16, 2015
SHELBY – In an age when many government bodies are allowing fear and political correctness to rob them of the right to hold pre-meeting public prayer, one North Carolina school board is being asked to take a stand and turn its moment of silence into a conversation with God.
Members of the Cleveland County Christian Law Enforcement Association addressed the Cleveland County Board of Education Monday night requesting prayer before each meeting, and the school board has said it will explore policy and procedural recommendations regarding the issue.
“We think God should be in our lives,” Cleveland County Sheriff’s Captain Joel Shores told the media. “… We are seeing these progressives try to slowly remove everything that we feel our forefathers fought for.”
The group made its appeal after members said they realized the school board was the only government body in the county that opened meetings without an invocation.
“If any Board needs to have God in their presence when making decisions, it should be our school board,” the group wrote as part of an invitation to Christians throughout Cleveland County to attend the school board meeting on Monday.
“It is time we as Christians stop letting a few dictate how our actions should be,” the call- to-action continued.
The school board faced a packed house when it opened its meeting, and what was intended as a routine moment of silence became, instead, a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer by many in the crowd.
Cleveland County School Board Chair Phillip Glover told the media the board had opted to use a moment of silence rather than a prayer in an attempt to avoid any lawsuits, but some others on the board said the right to pray is more important than concerns over potential litigation. By the end of the meeting, the board voted 7-2 to continue with the moment of silence, but to also have the school system’s superintendent and legal counsel explore potential policies and guidelines for implementing prayer at meetings. They expect to hear back from the superintendent at the next meeting Nov. 9.
Already the American Civil Liberties Union has warned that “opening school board meetings with prayers could make students or residents of different beliefs feel unwelcome or pressured into participating in a religious activity with which they don’t agree.”
In an e-mail to media outlets, the ACLU said courts have “found such practices to be unconstitutional, especially in school board settings.”
What the group didn’t mention is the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling in Town of Greece, NY v. Galloway, in which justices affirmed the right of government bodies to allow uncensored prayer before meetings.
“Our tradition assumes that adult citizens, firm in their own beliefs, can tolerate and perhaps appreciate a ceremonial prayer delivered by a person of a different faith,” the Court ruled.
“The Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the practice of prayer before legislative bodies is firmly embedded in the history and traditions of this nation,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Thomas Hungar said in explaining the ruling. “In so doing, they have simply reinforced what has been true about America since its founding: Americans should be free to speak and act consistently with their own beliefs.”
Months after the May 2014 ruling, a federal district court lifted its order against the prayer policy of Forsyth County. The order had required that the county censor prayers to ensure that they included no sectarian references after the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued the Forsyth County Commission.
“We are glad to see the community and some members of this school board taking a proactive position on prayer and exercising their constitutional rights,” said the Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. “We urge the staff members exploring a prayer policy to thoroughly research the matter and not be thwarted by threats from the ACLU.”
The Board of Education will likely delay any vote on the matter until mid-December.