• Fight over Rowan Co. prayer at meetings now displayed on billboards

    By: Natalie Pasquarella


    ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - The fight over prayer at Rowan County meetings is now plastered across the county.

    Eyewitness News found billboards put up by a local church supporting commissioners.

    Eyewitness News has been following the growing battle since last year when the American Civil Liberties Union first asked the county to stop praying before meetings.

    Driving through Salisbury it is hard to miss the yellow billboard – it is one of 40 that will go up as part of a big debate over prayer.

    "I don't think it'd right to tell our commissioners that they can't pray a certain way," said Rev. Bill Godair.

    The billboards read: "Keep praying commissioners, in Jesus name, Amen."

    Cornerstone Church purchased the signs in response to an ACLU lawsuit filed just a couple of weeks ago to stop commissioners from starting meetings with prayer.

    Godair said he decided to spend thousands to show support for commissioners.

    "We just feel like that everybody should have a right, that's their First Amendment rights and we back them 100 percent," he said.

    Eyewitness News reached out to the ACLU for their reaction to the billboards that will go up from now through August. They sent us a statement saying, in part:

    "By refusing to obey the law and insisting on opening meetings with prayers that are specific to only one religion, the Rowan County Commissioners have created an environment where citizens of different beliefs are made to feel alienated... officials must end this unconstitutional practice at once."

    Some people in Salisbury said they believe it is a matter of individual rights.

    "I don't think anybody has the right to stop somebody from praying more than they have the right to force them to pray. It comes down to each individuals beliefs and what they want to do in life," said Von Summers.

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