By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — Want to open your meeting with prayer in Jesus’ name? Most North Carolinians won’t mind a bit. According to a poll conducted late last month by the John W. Pope Civitas Institute, four out of five Tar Heel voters do not object to so-called “sectarian” prayers using Jesus’ name.
“It appears the people of North Carolina are much more tolerant than the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) when it comes to religious speech in the public square,” wrote Civitas President Francis De Luca in a March 23 press release on the poll. “They don’t feel threatened or intimidated by words alone.”
The poll and a separate rally, held last weekend at the Walkertown Public Library, come on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s January decision not to entertain a split Court of Appeals ruling in the hard fought Forsyth County prayer case. The 4th Circuit had ruled in July 2011 that even though the Forsyth County Commission invited any and all faith groups to sign up to offer an invocation prior to its meetings, giving them free rein to pray as they saw fit, its policy was unconstitutional because the majority of those who responded were Christians who called on the name of their savior.
Many had hoped that the High Court would take on the case since the 4th Circuit ruling had differed so from an earlier judgment in the 11th Circuit case of Pelphrey v. Cobb County, which allowed free speech in prayers at government hosted events.
“Despite the ACLU’s continued campaign against any mention of Christ in the public square, we’re glad to see folks like those in Walkertown and others who were polled by Civitas still willing to stand up and be counted as citizens who value our country’s freedoms of speech and religion,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Retired Army Major Dave Goetze, one of the speakers at last weekend’s rally, said he was tired of assaults on these freedoms and the larger agenda to “totally remove God from our governments.”
“I’m here to say, ‘Not on my watch,'” he told the crowd at the “Taking Back Our Freedom” event, which was organized by a candidate for the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.
The Rev. Bobby Roberson, pastor of Gospel Light Baptist Church in Walkertown, also spoke at the event urging Christians to remember Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
He lamented that anyone would try to get believers “not to mention Jesus name because you’ll hurt somebody’s feelings.”
Last month the Rowan County Board of Commissioners took a stand for prayer in Jesus’ name when they were threatened by the ACLU, with some board members vowing to go to jail before they change their prayers.
De Luca said the the Civitas poll might reflect the fact that “North Carolinians respect elected officials’ own right to speak freely.”
“In any event…” he said, “a strong majority of the people here accept mentions of Jesus at invocations to start governmental meetings.”
At the Walkertown rally, it was Goetze who reminded the crowd that our nation’s founding fathers called on Divine Providence frequently in their writings and looked to Him for help in maintaining our country’s freedoms.
“It is His blessing with those rights that makes them unalienable, not our government,” he said.
Dr. Creech was not surprised by the Civitas Poll results and urged North Carolinians to stand strong for the beliefs they profess.
“If we don’t defend our freedom to speak freely of our God in the public square, we will soon lose it completely,” he warned.
To learn more about the Civitas poll, click here