Winston-Salem, NC -- The battle over prayer will continue with an appeal after Forsyth County Commissioners voted four to three to fight a recent ruling prohibiting prayer before meetings.
But before the commissioners met, Christ Cathedral Church of Deliverance organized a prayer group outside the government building to encourage commissioners to fight the ruling to disband prayer prior to county commissioner meetings.
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The issue over prayer before the meetings started three years ago. Two citizens took their complaints against the practice all the way to middle district court and won. The decision commissioners faced Monday night was whether to appeal that ruling.
The board heard public comments for 30 minutes before discussing the issue.
One speaker said, "Nowhere in the constitution am I granted to not be offended. I am, however, granted the right to exercise my religion without government interference."
Another said, "You can make a difference by standing and I'm asking you to stand and let's fight this thing."
One speaker who was in favor of keeping the ban in place said, "Every time a sectarian prayer is uttered in a government institution, somebody else's religious freedom is violated."
Going into the meeting, the board was split. Chairman David Plyler had not announced which way he was going to vote. During the meeting, Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt said, "I'll remind you, we didn't start this fight, we were sued and it was not of our doings, I can assure you. I'm delighted to keep appealing and fighting this case beacause I do believe in it."
Commissioner Walter Marshall said, "It bothers me that we got a system where we think that we are such that there is no other God other than, nobody can use the name of God other than how we should believe in."
Before the meeting, Chairman Plyler told WFMY News 2 he needs legal assurance that the county won't be held financially liable if they lose the appeal. Private donations have been raised to help with those costs and other costs of moving forward with the appeal. Plyler cast the deciding vote to move forward with the appeal.
Gloria Whisenhunt, Debra Conrad, and Richard Linville also voted in favor of the appeal.
Beaufort Bailey, Ted Kaplan, and Walter Marshall voted against it.
WFMY News 2