Rowan commssioners open meeting with prayer despite lawsuit threat



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SALISBURY, N.C. — With a packed house and despite the threat of a lawsuit, Rowan County commissioners prayed in Jesus’ name before its meeting Monday.

WSOC-TV reported Commissioner Jon Barber said “the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, Amen” at the end of his prayer. It has long been the board’s practice to pray in the name of Jesus.

More than 100 people, mostly in favor of prayer, stuffed the room, and hundreds more sang downstairs in an overflow room.

The ACLU had given commissioners a Monday deadline to respond to their request to stop using the name of a specific deity during prayers at public meetings. An ACLU spokesman said Monday the group will now consider filing a lawsuit against the county.

The ACLU recently began contacting local governments across the state after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a ruling that found sectarian prayers at public meetings violate First Amendment protections. That case involved Forsyth County commissioners.

Another group threatening lawsuits is the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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