By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
September 18, 2013
SALISBURY — The Supreme Court won’t take up the issue of prayer before governmental meetings until November, but more than a thousand North Carolinians made their opinion known Monday by gathering at the Rowan County Administration Building to support commissioners’ right to offer invocations in Jesus’ name.
“We are glad to see folks stand up for our God-given and constitutionally guaranteed right to petition our creator as we see fit,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Certainly our founding fathers never dreamed that the freedom of religion they made sure to include in the Constitution would ever be turned on its head and used to prevent prayer in the name of our Savior.”
Organized by Forsyth County-based Return America, Monday’s event was in response to a judge’s order that Rowan County officials stop using sectarian prayers. The American Civil Liberties Union had sued the board on behalf of three residents who said the pre-meeting prayers made them feel excluded. In response, the board took its prayers behind closed doors.
But Rev. Ron Baity, president of Return America, told the commissioners that if prayer is prohibited in the public arena, “then the next place they’re going to come for it is in our churches.”
The event drew crowds from surrounding counties and both ends of the state, with many carrying signs and singing hymns as Dr. Baity and more than two dozen other pastors gathered on the courthouse steps before going to the commissioners’ chambers.
“We sent a great message today for the cause of Jesus Christ,” Baity told the crowd. “We need you to go back home and stay charged.”
Attorney David Gibbs III, who is representing the commissioners in the prayer suit, told the crowd along Innes Street that Congress and the N.C. Legislature still open sessions with prayers in Jesus name and that people need to recognize “this is our tradition.”
“If you have prayer without Jesus, you just formed a non-Jesus religion,” he said.
Related Commentary by Rev. Mark Creech: Public Prayer in Jesus’ Name: Yes or No?