by Jason DeWitt | Top Right News
Commissioners in a North Carolina county voted to end religious invocations before their meetings after the chairman walked out while a man opened with a Muslim prayer.
The Lincoln County commissioners had recently adopted a policy of allowing members of any faith to give the invocation, in response to legal action.
Local government boards have long opened meetings with a religious invocation. In recent years, counties that have regularly opened with Christian prayer have been forced to revisit their practices. A federal judge ruled earlier this year that the practice of opening meetings in nearby Rowan County with only Christian prayers violated the U.S. Constitution. The county is appealing the ruling.
So under the new rule, a Muslim Imam was permitted to open the meeting with a reading from the Koran, as the Charlotte Observer reported.
But as the Imam began to speak, Board Chairman Carrol Mitchem arose and suddenly left the meeting, according to the Lincoln Times-News. The stunned Muslim briefly stopped, then continued after the Chairman had left.
The shocked board then revoked their open-invocation police, and will now open with a moment of silence instead. There is word that some Muslims may now sue them over it.
Mitchem, the defiant Lincoln County chairman, had said in interviews in the weeks prior that only Christian prayers would be welcome at his meetings.
“I’m not going to have a new religion, or pray to Allah or nothing like that,” Mitchem told WBTV, saying that anyone opposed to Christian prayer can “wait until we’re done praying.”
Mitchem refused to apologize, or back down after the final vote, in response to Muslim “outrage,” the Observer observed.