Rowan commission meeting packed as prayer controversy heats up
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SALISBURY, N.C. -- Rowan County commissioners opened their meeting as they always have Monday night, with a Christian prayer, but this time it was to a packed house.
About 100 people filled the county building lobby as overflow from the meeting, where about 150 more people filled seats.
The sectarian prayers have drawn more complaints to the ACLU from Rowan County than any other, from residents of other faiths that say they feel excluded. But Monday night there were no complaints to be heard.
"I applaud you, I back you and I appreciate your stand," said Bruce Graham as he addressed the board.
"I believe in Jesus and I'm here to stand up for his name," said another Rowan County resident.
One-by-one, Rowan County residents stepped up to the mic and showed concern that the prayers could end.
"If they're telling the county commissioners that they can't pray, soon they'll be at my church telling county commissioners that I can't pray," said resident Jerry Brown.
Before the meeting, board chairman Chad Mitchell said he personally has no intentions of starting the meetings any other way.
"I intend to pray the way I've always prayed, I don't intend on changing that up," said Mitchell.
Mitchell also said the the offer to be the first to go to jail over this issue still stands, along with Commissioner Jim Sides.
The county has yet to be confronted with legal action, but Mitchell says it is a real concern.