Residents upset after county bends rules for pastor protesters

by: Dan Tordjman Updated:


CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. - Residents are in a fury with Catawba County leaders for making an exception to an existing rule. 

Protestors were allowed to demonstrate Sunday against a pastor who made anti-gay comments during a sermon on Mother's Day. 

County ordinance requires groups to submit a request for a permit to use public grounds 14 days ahead of their planned event. 

In this case, the county said it only got the request four days before the protest.

Because of that, several people who publicly support Pastor Worley said they want to know why county officials made an exception.

An email campaign this week demanded answers and called for commissioners to step down for bending the existing county rules.

In a statement, county attorney Debra Bechtel said this case raised questions about the Constitutionality of the county's 14-day review process for requests to use public grounds.

But for some that answer was not good enough.

"I think we as Catawba County citizens have the right to know how they went around the book and I'm opposed to it," said one resident. 

In response, county officials said they are reviewing the existing ordinance, but no suggestions on changing it have been presented yet.