he Lincoln County Board of Commissioners had always opened government meetings with Christian prayer. About two months ago, officials decided that in order to avoid legal trouble, they’d have to let everyone participate.
That didn’t last long.
On Monday, commission chairman Carrol Mitchem, who had previously announced he wouldn’t “bow to minorities” and that he “ain’t gonna have no new religion or pray to Allah” at board meetings, held true to his word and walked out on the first person to address the North Carolina government meeting with a Muslim prayer, the Lincoln Times-News reports.
“That was very upsetting. It was upsetting,” Dustin Barto of the Foothills Interfaith Assembly, who had led the Muslim prayer, told WSCOTV.
By the end of the meeting, all prayer was banned at board meetings and will be replaced with a moment of silence. Commissioner Alex Patton initiated the motion which was easily voted into effect.
“To me, the final straw was when our chairman got up and walked out,” Patton told WSCOTV, adding that the commission needs to focus on pressing matters like the economy and education.